Big Lead Sports Bar

9/25/2008

BEHIND ENEMY LINES: STEELERS-RAVENS

This week, I've lined up another treat for all you Terrible Towel wavers. Prepare to be taken behind enemy lines, Baltimore Ravens style, with Dewey Hammond, author of Blogimore Ravens and managing editor of the Yardbarker network of sports blogs (of which I am a proud member).
You might not know this, but Dewey also doubles as one of the few humans who's defeated the one and only Joey Chestnut in a contest where mass consumption is the objective. I guess that makes up for the fact that he roots for the Ravens.
STEELERS-RAVENS PREVIEW
by Dewey Hammond, Blogimoreravens.com
Baltimore is unexpectedly undefeated heading into Monday night's game against Pittsburgh, Yeah, that's right. Unexpected. Very unexpected. I'm not going to pretend otherwise. Truthfully, I thought Baltimore would win only one game in the division this year, at home against Pittsburgh late in the season, and I only picked that because I didn't have the heart to predict that Baltimore would shoot blanks in the AFC North.

Pittsburgh is 13-0 at home on Monday night since 1992. On the flip side, Baltimore has played on Monday night only 10 times in its existence. The Ravens lost six of those games, and because y'all from Pittsburgh aren't quite as brilliant as us Clowns from Bodymore, that means the Ravens have won four games on Monday night. This Monday will not make five.

I enjoy Kool-Aid as much as the next guy, but I'm not drinking it this week.

Joe Flacco vs. the Steel Curtain: Listen, Flacco's been OK and all, but this is his first NFL game on the road. Pittsburgh is probably not the best place for a rookie to pick up a road victory. There is no way Baltimore goes into hostile territory and wins a prime-time game on the road against a team that I believe is talented enough to win the Super Bowl. I suppose it's possible, but it's definitely not likely.

Rashad Mendenhall vs. Baltimore's defensive line: Pittsburgh's backup running backs have a fairly decent historical track record against Baltimore's D, which is surprising considering how strong Baltimore typically is against the run. That having been said, the rookie RB out of Illinois is in for a painful Tuesday morning. Mendenhall is a bruiser, but he lacks the versatility to compete with Ray Ray & Sons. If he gets more than 70 yards, it's because the Ravens are getting destroyed and the Steelers are methodically chewing up the clock, running the ball over and over and over and over again. Mendenhall won't get you fantasy points until Baltimore's D mails it in, which doens't happen often, even when they're losing big.

Big Ben Roethlisberger vs. Baltimore's defensive secondary:
Baltimore's defensive secondary was a huge issue last season, but they haven't been tested yet this year. Largely because the pass rush has been so effective. Carson Palmer and Derek Anderson both had embarrassingly low QB ratings. Palmer's was the lowest of his career. I believe Derek Anderson's was even worse. I'm not in the business of paying too much attention to the specifics, though. I'm more into drinking enough beer so that I'll be able to convince myself Baltimore has a shot of beating Pittsburgh on the road.

So what will it take for Baltimore to win the game?

If Baltimore wins this game, it's because the defense is able to get pressure on Ben Roethlisberger, who certainly won't be 100 percent. Baltimore loses a lot with defensive tackle Kelly Gregg on the bench. There's a decent chance he'll be out for the year. I spent last weekend in Vegas with Gregg's agent, and Kelly's knee is in bad shape. But if Baltimore can break through Pittsburgh's offensive line, which has played more poorly than I anticipated, and if they can get pressure on Big Ben, and if -- and this is the biggest "if" of all -- Joe Flacco can manage the game effectively, then the Ravens will have a chance to win this game, because Rashad Mendenhall will not beat them. It's simply not going to happen. Joe Flacco may be a fluke, but Baltimore's defense is the truth.

3 comments:

jxb4689 said...

Is this the guy responsible for putting all the ads on this site now? It takes forever to load.

BTW... Steelers 21 - Ravens 10

RedHawks Hockey said...

impressive beer chugging

srudude87 said...

Still no post today of Mark Madden joining 105.9?? I can't believe this.