Week Thirteen What To Look For
This week the 9-2 Ravens head home to face the 6-5 Pittsburgh Steelers for their 2nd matchup this year.
1. No Ben Roethlisberger
Earlier today, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that QB Ben Roethlisberger will be out this week. This has a big impact on both the Ravens and the Steelers. The Steelers will be forced to start 37 year old (38 in a few days) Charlie Batch. Last week against the Cleveland Browns, Batch went 20-of-34 for 199 yards with 3 INTs. He also had a QB rating of 38.7 and a total QBR of 20.8. The biggest way that this will impact the game is that Batch is not mobile at all. Since Roethlisberger is very mobile, it is hard to take him down and he can extend the play very well. Batch cannot do this and will be forced to stay in the pocket which will the allow the Ravens pass rush to get more pressure. One thing to note about this is even if Roethlisberger played, his mobility would have been severely restricted because of the pain in his should/rib area.
2. Joe Flacco
As usual, Flacco will be key to the game on Sunday. What makes this even more interesting is that Flacco has a 108.8 QB rating at home and averages 322.4 passing yards per game at home. He will be facing the number 1 pass defense which gives up 165.7 yards per game. The last time Flacco played the Steelers at home, he passed for 224 yards and threw for 3 TDs with at QB rating of 117.6 and a QBR of 74.3. If we base Flacco’s game off of what he did last time then Flacco should have a good game lead the Ravens to another victory. The general conception about Flacco is that he is inconsistent which is true. However, at home he is one of the best QBs in the league. The last time that he had a game with 2 or more interceptions at home was way back in 2009, which was his 2nd year in the league, against the Cincinnati Bengals. In fact he only has 4 games with 2 or more interceptions at home and 3 of these were in his rookie year, including 2 in his first 3 home games. Expect Flacco to pass for about 250 yards against the Steelers on Sunday.
3. Dannell Ellerbe
Playing for Ray Lewis, Ellerbe has quietly had a great season. He is second on the Ravens with 81 tackles and also ranks second in sacks with 4.5. What make this even better is Ellerbe has only been playing full time since week 7. Before he was playing mostly in passing situations. Over the last few weeks, Ellerbe has been playing with a cast on his hand as he has a broken thumb. Last week against the Chargers he also injured his ankle and didn’t return. This week he is questionable and nobody really knows if he will play or not. The Ravens will need Ellerbe to play this week as the Steelers will run the ball a lot because they are on their 3rd string QB. Backup Brendon Ayanbadejo is fine in pass coverage and the other backup is Josh Bynes who has 3 career tackles. Last time these two teams played, the Steelers had some success running the ball so you know they will try again, especially if Ellerbe is out. I would make a prediction on how he will perform but I honestly have no clue if he will play.
4. Paul Kruger
Kruger’s play this year has definitely been a surprise. He leads the Ravens with 5.5 sacks. He also has had a sack in the last 3 games with a total of 4 coming in these games. It doesn’t comes as a surprise though that his production has increased since Terrell Suggs has come back. In his career, Kruger has only had 1.5 sacks against the Steelers but he only has 12 career sacks so this is 8% of his career sacks. There are two factor that give Kruger an advantage for this game. One is the Steelers offensive line, as usual it seems, is injured. The other is that Batch won’t be moving around very much and is easy to take down. Due to these factors, expect Kruger to get 1 sack and the Ravens to total 4.
Prediction: Ravens 27 Steelers 7
The Steelers are to banged up to make this game competitive. No team will ever be very good with their 3rd string QB in. This combined with the fact that the Ravens are playing at home lead to the Ravens winning.