It's game day Ravens Nation, and you know what that means. It's time for Ravens101's five key matchups to watch for and today the rivalry is renewed once again as the Baltimore Ravens are in the Steel City to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This game needs no introduction as it is one of, if not the best rivalry in all of football, and today we will give you our key matchups to watch for as these two teams battle it out once again.
Ravens Outside Linebackers vs Steelers Tight Ends & Tackles
Yesterday, two of our four key Ravens of the game were outside linebackers, so it should come as no surprise that this is one of our key matchups as well. Courtney Upshaw is in just his second year of this rivalry and Elvis Dumervil is about to get his first taste of it, but both of these guys are going to have to step up and have a big game against the Steelers tight ends and tackles. Pittsburgh is going to make sure Terrell Suggs does not beat them as they know what he can do, thus leaving fewer blockers on the opposite side. If Dumervil and Upshaw can get to Roethlisberger early and often, it could be a long game for the Steelers offensive line and Big Ben.
Justin Tucker vs Choppy Turf
It is no secret that the Steelers Ravens games are close ones and usually come down to one possession of difference. In fact, 11 of the last 13 times these two teams have hooked up, the score has been within one possession, thus the kicking game is that much more important in these games. Tucker, who hit two of his three field goal attempts at Heinz Field last season, is going to be one of the most important players on the field today. The way this Ravens offense has struggled to score points this season, Tucker, and the Ravens, are not going to be able to afford any misses.
Lardarius Webb vs Antonio Brown
Baltimore, and more specifically Webb, are going to have to keep close eyes on Brown in this game. Brown is currently tied for second in the NFL with 41 receptions and it has become no secret that he is Roethlisberger's favorite target. Outside of Emmanuel Sanders, Brown is the only threat in the passing game that could really strike fear in opposing defenses, thus Webb is going to have to shut him down when he is lined up across from him.
Ravens Red Zone Defense vs Steelers Red Zone Offense
On paper, this should not even be close to being considered a key matchup to watch for as the Ravens are currently tied with Kansas City for the best red zone touchdown percentage in football, holding opponents to just a 25% touchdown percentage in the red zone. On the flip side, Pittsburgh has the second worse red zone offense in all of football scoring a touchdown just 38.46% of the time. The reason this is a key matchup to watch for is because the game is at Heinz Field and the crowd will play a factor in this. Baltimore will have to ensure communication is smooth and utilize the obvious advantage they in this area of the field.
Ravens Run Game vs Steelers Run Game
Both teams come into this game with running games that are struggling mightily and rushing defenses that are among the leagues best, so this matchup is going to be absolutely crucial to the outcome of the game. Whoever's rushing attack can actually get on track in this game will likely be the team that comes out on top. We have talked about the Ravens running woes all season, and rightfully so as they rank 27th in the league in average rushing yards per game; however, it has been even worse in Pittsburgh as they are next to last in the NFL in average rushing yards per game. To put it in perspective just how poorly the Ravens and Steelers have been running the football this season, if you combine Baltimore's 72.7 rushing yards per game and Pittsburgh's 61 rushing yards per game, it is still less than each of the top five teams in the NFL are averaging per game. So we repeat, whoever's running game breaks through in this game, that team will likely end up on top when it is all said and done.
These are our five key matchups to watch for in today's game, what are your's? Let your voice be heard by posting a comment!
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