The Pittsburgh Steelers now know who they will face in the AFC Playoffs Divisional Round, and that team is the AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens.© 2011 Steelers Universe
Lets take a look at how these two teams compare.
Regular Season Stats:
Ravens Offense # 22
Steelers Defense # 2
Ravens Passing Offense # 20
Steelers Passing Defense # 12
Ravens Rushing Offense # 14
Steelers Rushing Defense # 1
Ravens Scoring Offense # 16
Steelers Scoring Defense #1
Steelers Offense # 14
Ravens Defense # 10
Steelers Passing Offense # 14
Ravens Passing Defense # 21
Steelers Rushing Offense # 11
Ravens Rushing Defense # 5
Steelers Scoring Offense # 12
Ravens Scoring Defense # 3
Steelers Turnovers +17
Ravens Turnovers +7
Time of Possession:
We know that these two teams play a hard-hitting brand of defense. When you hear "Pittsburgh" and 'Baltimore" that's the first thing that comes to mind. They both run 3-4 defenses. They both have dynamic play making safeties in Ed Reed for Baltimore and Troy Polamalu for the Steelers.
This game will be violent. And as Steelers' Head Coach Mike Tomlin says, the team who is the most violent will win.
In the last meeting, Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had his nose broken. A few years ago, Steelers' running back Rashard Mendenhall had his shoulder broken on a hit by Ravens' middle linebacker Ray Lewis.
Hines Ward has knocked out Ed Reed on special teams. James Harrison caused an Ed Reed fumble with a vicious hit on a punt return.
It's likely that there will be blood.
One thing I have noticed in the past couple of seasons is that when these teams meet, the game normally hinges on a big defensive turnover.
In 2008, James Harrison strip-sacked Ravens' quarterback Joe Flacco, and the Flacco fumble was returned for a touchdown by LaMarr Woodley. That was the turning point of the game.
In the AFC Championship Game rematch later that season, the Ravens were looking to drive down the field late and take a win. Joe Flacco threw an interception on that drive to Troy Polamalu who returned it for a touchdown to ice the Steelers' berth in Super Bowl XLIII.
This season in Baltimore, Troy Polamalu came unblocked off the edge and strip-sacked Joe Flacco. Woodley returned the fumble to the Steelers nine yard line, and Ben Roethlisberger threw a touchdown pass that won the game.
So on Saturday afternoon, I am expecting this game to be won on a big defensive play. Harrison sacking Flacco and causing a fumble. A Troy Polamalu interception or sack. A fumble recovery returned for a touchdown.
The one place where I am honestly scared is special teams. Our kick coverage has given up a few big run backs. Most notably to the Jets on the opening kickoff. If we don't allow that, we beat the Jets. We have to avoid a big special teams gaffe.
The Ravens have quite the record on the road in the Playoffs. Under Joe Flacco they are 4-2. The Ravens are 0-2 against the Steelers all-time in the Playoffs. Joe Flacco is 0-1 against the Steelers in the Playoffs.
In the end, the Steelers will pull out the win. The betting line is Steelers by three, which is the customary points you get with a home game. It's fitting, because the teams split the season series 1-1 with each winning by three points on the road.