The League

Doug Farrar
Writer

Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

Watch Out for the Ravens

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While Pittsburgh's defense is as intimidating as any in the NFL, I don't think that alone makes them the toughest team to deal with. The Steelers' offensive line has been a problem all year (22nd in Adjusted Line Yards and 29th in Adjusted Sack Rate through Week 13), and their rushing attack hasn't been consistent.

When I look at playoff teams, bad-weather survivor who might have to play on the road, I look for run defense and a power ground game. That's why the two teams that should scare anyone right now are the Titans and the Ravens. Tennessee has been blowing up opposing defenses with their two-headed rushing attack all season, and their defensive front seven is as stout as any in the NFL. The Ravens feature the only defense better than Pittsburgh's, and their power running game can come at you from all angles. Will you see two fullbacks sweeping behind an unbalanced offensive line, or will Joe Flacco run a bootleg the other way against a defense struggling to recover? The Redskins are still trying to answer those questions from Sunday night.

After watching the Giants lose to the Eagles, I'm not too sure about the champs. There seems to be a serious disconnect between Eli and his receivers in less hospitable weather, which is where he's really going to miss Plaxico Burress. We'll also have to see what Brandon Jacobs' injury situation looks like -- they're going to need their big man to carve up the middle down the stretch.

Next week's Ravens-Steelers game will tell us a lot. If the Ravens can beat Pittsburgh, they'll be the team to beat in the AFC not named the Titans. And if they play the way they did against the Redskins -- and the Steelers play the way they did against the Cowboys -- the Ravens will emerge as perhaps the most dangerous team in the NFL.

By Doug Farrar  |  December 8, 2008; 10:44 AM ET  | Category:  Pittsburgh Steelers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Comments

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The Ravens had 4 tough games and lost them all. Why do you rate them so highly?

Posted by: Bill in Oregon | December 8, 2008 7:08 PM

Last time I checked the Steelers were number 1 across the board on defense. Now I know you link a website, but those rankings are adjusted using a value-added system. Enough of that garbage...use real concrete stats and the Steelers D is best in the NFL.

Posted by: Tim in Ohio | December 9, 2008 11:17 AM

Stats don't mean much once the ball's kicked, Tim in Ohio. All that matters is what goes down on the field Sunday afternoon in Baltimore. It'll be fun to watch!

Posted by: Lea Jones | December 9, 2008 11:21 AM

Thank you for giving the Ravens the recognition they deserve. Granted, it may be mute if they lose on Sunday but if they win, it will get people talking!

They took the Steelers to OT, and in my opinion, should have sealed it in regulation. That was at the start of the season, when Flacco had very little real game experience.

Factor in a strong home field advantage (no ones wants to play in Baltimore) and it will be a helluva game.

Posted by: postposter27 | December 9, 2008 1:47 PM

The stat remark Lea was directed at the author who uses a value added stat web page to rate the Ravens D better than Pittsburgh's. I'm looking forward to the game, however I think the Steelers D will rattle Flaco. They are healthy on defense this week. Look for Ben to come out throwing and scoring early!

Posted by: Tim in Ohio | December 9, 2008 2:56 PM

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