Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers - Monday Night Football
Monday, November 5th, 2007
by The Crazy Snake of Predictem.com
The NFL’s top two ranked defenses square off in this Monday night AFC North showdown, and with 5-2 and 4-3 respective records, one could be forgiven for thinking on paper that a Steelers/Ravens match up could and should be a close battle. But with an anemic offense barely managing to scrape enough points together to score spreads, let alone cover them, the Baltimore Ravens will have to find some inspiration on the offensive side of the ball or hope their D is inspired enough to find ways to score in their stead.
The Ravens have named Steve McNair as the starter for Monday’s tilt, but this is no guarantee of an improvement in offensive efficiency or scoring potential. Injuries on the offensive line have weakened an already less than prolific attack and baring a major upheaval, the Ravens look likely to struggle against the highest rated defense they have yet faced.
Last season’s Ravens version was a far cry from the one on offer here, but one common theme was a Jeckyl and Hyde style home/road disparity. Though the Ravens destroyed the Steelers in both meetings last season, one a 27-0 shutout at home and the other a 31-7 trouncing at Heinz Field, nobody in their right mind would be suggesting the likelihood of a repeat of either of those results in this game. Baltimore is 0-4 against the spread on the road, despite one win. On closer examination it is worth noting that one win was a 9-7 defeat of the struggling 49ers, a win that saw Baltimore incapable of finding the end zone on even one occasion.
In contrast to last season, the Steelers look to have found their offensive groove. “Fast” Willie Parker is running with strength and purpose and Big Ben is seeing the entire field and finding open receivers, though his decision making is always a little iffy. Rush wary coverages are creeping up and trying to curb the clock eating no nonsense style for which the Steelers have become notorious, allowing play action to become the weapon it was in their Superbowl year. Ben Roethlisberger is looking decidedly comfortable. The gremlins that crept in after his early 2006 season bike mishap have retired to the relative comfort of the Bengal’s pass coverage and Steel Town is happy again.
This won’t be a long game, and if you’re wanting an early night for a Tuesday morning start you could probably watch this game in its entirety and still get it. Against one of the NFL’s elite defensive units, the Ravens offense could well have more 3 and outs than the losing team in a World Series shut out. Pittsburgh will try to control the line of scrimmage and utilize their number one ranked rushing attack to grind their opponents into dust. The clock will spend most of its time in view ticking down to 3 duck eggs and it’ll be lights out by the 3 hour mark.
Scoring potential in this one looks low. The o/u is set to 36 points and it’s really difficult to see it getting much above that. Confidence on the Ravens finding the end zone is at an all time low with the most likely route to that elusive strip of real estate being via a fumble recovery, a special teams return or a pick six. With the Steelers likely to control the ball and the clock, I see them having around 60% of the available time to score. That figures to equate to a couple of TDs and a FG or two.
I see the Steelers covering the 9 point spread with a little to spare. Defensive battles notwithstanding, it’s hard to see the Ravens holding out a strong rushing attack for an entire game. Throw in some Big Ben play action for a deep bomb and the Ravens could be chasing their own tail feathers at a very early juncture.
The Snake’s Bite: I predict a win and cover by Pittsburgh with the final score looking something like: Steelers 23 Ravens 9.