Sunday – 12/2/12
The Ravens can clinch a playoff birth on Sunday with a win over the Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. They can also clinch the AFC North crown with a win and a Bengals loss. The Ravens are currently riding a 16 game home winning streak and look to push that to 17 with Ben Roethlisberger more than likely not playing Sunday [Update: Big Ben officially OUT].
Baltimore’s defense has stepped up to the plate and returned to form over their current four game winning streak. During that span they have only allowed 14.5 points to opponents and they will more than likely be facing a struggling Charlie Batch. Last week Pittsburgh turned the ball over eight times, so look for the Raven’s D to be attacking early and often.
Pittsburgh enters Sunday riding a two-game losing streak. Over those two games without Big Ben, the Steelers have only managed a combined 24 points. This week the Steelers will be looking for revenge after a 13-10 loss at the hands of the Ravens just two week ago.
What the Ravens need to do to win the game
With Big Ben out, the Steelers have struggled to get anything rolling on offense. Last week against Cleveland, the Steelers turned the ball over eight times. Look for the Ravens to be attacking anyway possible on defense. If the Steelers cough up the ball eight times, this will be an absolute blowout. Even though I don’t see an NFL team giving up eight turnovers in consecutive weeks, the Ravens will be more than pleased with at least three turnovers. If the Steelers cough it up three times or more, look for the Ravens to win easily.
Look for QB Joe Flacco to come out firing on Sunday. Flacco is a much better QB at home and the numbers show. Away from M&T Bank stadium Flacco boasts a 70.2 passer rating compared to his 108.3 passing rating when playing in Baltimore. I expect the Ravens D to give Flacco and the offense great field position all game, meaning Flacco will be working with a shorter field. Look for Flacco to put up at least 3 touchdowns this week and if he does, they will be punching their ticket to the playoffs Sunday.
This week’s match-up to keep an eye on will be Charlie Batch versus the Ravens D. If the Steelers want to keep their playoff hopes alive they are going to need to start winning some games and limiting turnovers. The Ravens as we all know feast on turnovers. If Batch can keep the Steelers from turning the ball over they will give themselves a chance to win. If the Ravens D feast on this struggling Steelers offense, look for Baltimore fans to be celebrating their playoff birth.
Fantasy Sleeper of the Game
This week’s fantasy sleeper is none other than the dead eye shooter Plaxico Burress. Last week Burress was only targeted twice and didn’t record a catch. With a full week of practice look for some red-zone targets for Burress and look for him to convert at least one catch into a touchdown. Plaxico is only owned in 7% of Yahoo Fantasy leagues so if you need a receiver this week, John Wayne, I mean Plaxico is your man.
Baltimore is currently the best team in football at home and I don’t see their home winning streak coming to an end this week. The Ravens are going to be anxious to punch their playoff ticket and look for them to come out firing. I expect the Ravens to jump out to an early lead maintain that lead for all four quarters. I’m predicting a 27-10 Ravens victory. Here we come Playoffs!