Pittsburgh’s Special Teams vs. Baltimore’s Special Teams
With the Ravens’ stingy red zone defense in mind, Shaun Suisham could have to play “hero” for the Steelers today. Suisham has made all 10 of his field goal attempts this year, and he might be the team’s best offensive weapon if the offense gets bogged down in Baltimore territory.
The Steelers must be wary however of Baltimore’s explosive return men, Tandon Doss and Jacoby Jones. Doss, who returns punts, ranks second in the league with 255 punt return yards and has one touchdown to his credit this fall.
Jones, whose punt return for a score proved to be the difference in the game at Heinz Field last year, is one of the league’s best kickoff return men and it might be wise for Suisham to kick it away from him.
Pittsburgh’s coverage units have to limit the damage caused by Doss and Jones to win the field position battle, and they must come up big if the Steelers wish to emerge victorious.
Final Thoughts & Prediction
The Steelers will be fighting an uphill battle today, and I expect Suggs and Dumervil to wreak all sorts of havoc off of the edges since Haloti Ngata & co. will disrupt things along the interior of Pittsburgh’s offensive line. Gilbert and Beachum cannot handle Baltimore’s talented edge rushers one-on-one, and the Steelers’ offense will be in trouble if Todd Haley is unable to devise an offensive strategy to lessen the impact of Baltimore’s hard-charging veterans.
Despite their struggles along their offensive line, the Ravens’ running backs should be primed for terrific afternoons as long as Jim Caldwell and Flacco are willing to give Rice and Pierce the necessary touches. Pittsburgh’s front-seven have struggled to stop the running game with consistency all season, and Flacco should find success through the air by handing the ball off and “dinking-and-dunking” to set up his long heaves down the field to Smith and Jones.
I think that the Steelers will be a bit too overconfident after their most recent victory, and the Ravens are coming into this game hungry to send their biggest rivals to 1-5 on the year. Even though this game is being played at Heinz Field, Baltimore will come into this game with a cool confidence knowing that they have won three straight regular season games in Pittsburgh.
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