Steelers, Ravens Week 9 Keys to the Game

The Steelers head into Baltimore this week, riding a three-game winning streak. During that span, they have found themselves rise from the bottom of the division to the top.  This week will be a good test for the black and gold as they head into Baltimore facing the Ravens for the 2nd time.

The first time these two foes met, the Ravens took the contest 26-14.  That also happens to be the last time the Steelers lost a game.

If Pittsburgh can get the win this Sunday, they will drop the Ravens to 4-5 and make it a very tough uphill climb for Baltimore to get back into it.  Should the Ravens come out victorious, the landscape of the AFC North looks very different, with the Steelers losing all tiebreakers to the men in purple.

In order for the Steelers to win, they’ll need to pull off these following things:

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Take advantage of the Ravens injuries

The Ravens have multiple injuries they are dealing with at the moment, especially on the offensive line.  The Steelers need to take advantage of that and bull rush Joe Flacco. With a depleted offensive line, the defense should be able to get into the backfield early and often. Flacco is not mobile and the black and gold could wreak havoc all game long.

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Special teams must play well

As is the case most of the time, this game will probably be close. In close games, special teams make the difference.  This game will be no exception. Chris Boswell will obviously need to make his kicks but it doesn’t’ stop there.  Punt and kick coverage, as well as punt and kick returns by Ryan Switzer will be pertinent in determining field position and from that, the direct impact on the game.  If the Steelers are the team who takes advantage of special teams play and they don’t make the big mistake, they’ll come out of this game victorious.

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Ride James Conner

How can they not? Conner has been a beast over the last few weeks and the team needs to continue to feed him the ball. He’s averaging 4.7 yards per carry and already has nine touchdowns.  The Steelers should, and will, hand the ball to Conner upwards of 25 times. From there, he’ll follow the big guys up front and get the job done. The real question is, can he continue his streak of 100 yards and two touchdowns?  I say yes!

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All eyes on the secondary

In my opinion, Joe Flacco is not elite and never was.  That said, there are times against the Steelers where he looks like the best QB in the NFL.  That’s largely due to the weak secondary the black and gold have put out there for years.  Outside of Joe Haden, the secondary is still very weak and will need to ensure nobody breaks over the top for the big plays.  Flacco has a strong arm and if someone gets behind the secondary, he will make the Steelers pay.  The front seven need to rush him and the secondary needs to stay with their men. If that all gels, it will be a good day for Pittsburgh

This will be a hard-fought contest that will once again come down to the last drive.  The Steelers are far better off than they were a month ago and know they can’t afford to drop a second game to the Ravens this season. I expect the black and gold to take care of their business on the road and win 27-23.

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