Coming off one of the worst losses in Ravens history, there’s no other time than now to turn the script. With the team from Pittsburgh coming down to Baltimore this is bound to be nothing other than another classic between friendly foes (at least we hope).
Week 4 is not just another game for these two teams. With the blooding matchup renewing itself,this game just like many, will determine the leader in the AFC North. With both teams from Ohio starting the season 0-3, both match ups between Pittsburgh and Baltimore will be the deciding factors for the eventual division champion. Baltimore still has a bad taste in their mouth from last years week 16 matchup that ended in 31-27 loss due to Antonio Brown’s late touchdown. This year the opposition will look a little different for Antonio Brown. The Ravens had a clear focus this offseason and that was defense, in which I believe, had the goal in mind to be able to matchup with Pittsburgh’s offensive weapons.
A. Brown vs Ravens Secondary
In his career vs Baltimore Brown has played a total of 13 games. Getting targeted 120 times with 74 receptions totalling 840 yards receive, and 3 touchdowns (2 TD’s coming in 2016). Brown has been a hard weapon for the Ravens defense to stop but I think we have found the answer. Opening the season to a hot start Antonio Brown has already had games of 110 yards and 182 yards.
The Ravens Secondary will be filled with the complicated task of covering Brown all over the field and because of Brown’s versatility he will line wherever he is needed, due to that I see Dean Pees using a by committee concept. In years past Jimmy Smith has done a great job holding down Brown for a period of time but not the whole game. Due to Brown being used all over the field, Smith often showed fatigue and a loss of focus late in games. Leading to Brown making plays when they are most needed. By using Smith, Humphrey, Carr, and Webb the Ravens will keep a sense of focus on Brown at all times. Hopefully leading to Rothlisberger to struggle to find his biggest weapon and having to go elsewhere.
Control the Run
Without Urban on the defensive line, the Ravens need Williams to be a key in getting a push up front. Le’veon Bell has yet to have a breakout game this season and without 6’7 Brent Urban upfront it could be a long day. If healthy and ready play Williams will have to take on a bigger role i
n stopping the running game up front. Disrupting the backfield will give other players chances to bring down Bell in the backfield. C.J. Mosley and Tony Jefferson will also have to play a big role in stopping Bell. Other than knowing his injury isn’t “long-term” there’s some hope that we will see the big 98 playing Sunday.
Jefferson was brought over this offseason for this exact reason, stop Bell. Bell coming off his best game vs the Ravens defense last December, torching the Ravens defense on 20 attempts with 122 yards and a TD. Jefferson was one of the top rated safeties last year at stopping the run and that’s why Ozzie made him the offseason priority. Keeping Bell dancing in the backfield with a defensive push will give the hard hitting Jefferson a chance to make plays in the backfield like he has in years past.
Big Ben vs T-Sizzle
This may be one of the last times we get to see the vaunted Suggs vs Big Ben matchup in this great rivalry. The 15 year veteran has started the season off well and is looking to get back to form this week, by getting to the QB. Suggs has struggled as of recent vs Pittsburgh, without having a sack since the 2013 season. Getting pressure on Big Ben is something Suggs has done well in the past and hopefully he can provide a spark for the Ravens defense. In 19 games vs the Ravens, Big Ben is 10-9 with 31-21 touchdown to interception ratio. Due to a healthy and revamped secondary the Ravens will be able to mix up their looks and not always having to blitz to get pressure on Big Ben. Not getting pressure on Ben was an issue last season, only recording 2 sacks on Big Ben in two matchup’s, this surely will be a focus for Dean Pees.
With new guys in front of him in all different positions the offensive line looked bad to say the least. Hopefully with a week under their belts of working together things will turn around for this revamped line. With a new line in front of him Flacco needs to realize he needs to give them a chance by reading the defensive scheme better. What I’m asking from Flacco is to audible. Changing up his guys to add protection will be needed, last season Flacco was sacked 5 times vs Pittsburgh. For the Ravens to win we will need to see a glimpse of playoff Flacco, missing preseason may have been a bigger issue than expected. Getting Flacco in rhythm early will be a focus, making sure that he is facing 3&3 more than 3&6 may be the factor that determines a win or lose.