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Behind Enemy Lines: Baltimore Ravens

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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Game 12:
Steelers at Baltimore Ravens, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD, Sunday 4:25 p.m. CBS

Spread: NO LINE

All-time regular season series: The Steelers lead the all-time series 18-15, but in games played in Baltimore the series is tied at 8 wins apiece.

Last Meeting: Nov 19, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Baltimore won 13-10.

PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) –For the 2nd time in 3 weeks the Steelers hit the field against division rival Baltimore.  The Ravens currently have a 3 game lead of Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and can clinch the division title with a win at home on Sunday and a Bengals loss in San Diego.  Baltimore holds the longest current home streak in the NFL, winning their last 15 games at M&T Bank Stadium.  The last team to beat the Ravens on their home field were the Steelers in December of 2010.  The Ravens are on a 4 game winning streak and a win on Sunday would make them 5-0 this year against their AFC North counterparts.    2 weeks ago when the Ravens won in Pittsburgh, they face Byron Leftwich at quarterback, that won’t be the case this weekend.  Charlie Batch started the game last week for the Steelers and is in line to get his 2nd straight start if Ben Roethlisberger is out for the 3rd straight week with a shoulder and rib injury.

Offensive Player to Watch: Ray Rice, Running Back
Despite Joe Flacco insisting over this past off-season that he is an elite quarterback, that isn’t the case.  Ray Rice makes the Ravens offense work.  He is a threat running and catching the ball out of the backfield.  The Steelers contained Rice and the entire Raven offense 2 weeks ago, but still loss due to allowing a special teams touchdown.  Last game, Rice was limited to 93 yards on 25 touches and just 2 yards per carry on the ground.

Defensive Player to Watch: Terrell Suggs, Linebacker
Terrell Suggs has had a career against the Steelers.  Suggs has played in 15 career games against Pittsburgh and has 13.5 sacks and 2 interceptions in those games, both of those numbers are the best he has against any other team in the league.  Suggs only played 5 games this season after recovering from off-season surgery on his Achilles and has been off to a slow start.  He has only 17 tackles and 2 sacks in his 5 games this season.

Strengths: Defense
This may seem odd considering how the season started for the Ravens defense, but Baltimore has not given up more than 20 points in a game during their current 4 game winning streak.  Don’t think that it is a coincidence that with the return of Terrell Suggs the Ravens defense greatly improved.  The Ravens rank 26th in the league in rush defense allowing over 128 yards per game this season, but have kept 2 of their last 3 opponents under 100 yards on the ground.

Weaknesses: Offensive Line
If there is a weakness on the Ravens right now, it would have to the play of their offensive line.  Joe Flacco has been reliable, the Ravens wide receivers have been good as have tight end, Dennis Pita.  However, Flacco has been sacked 26 times this season and has been pressured and hit even more.  In the 2 games that the Ravens lost this year a lot of the success from the opponent came from the penetration they were able to get against the Ravens offensive line.  The Steelers did this 2 weeks ago in their 3 point loss and will need to do it again Sunday to have a chance at a rare win in Baltimore.

He Said It:
“We have tremendous respect for that organization. They are winners. They win Super Bowls. They have quite a few. We have one. I don’t think the tide will change until we win our Super Bowls. That’s just how I feel about it. They find ways to win championships and get into the playoffs. Everybody counts the Steelers out. We never count them out. Their record never really matters because that team always finds a way to creep back into the hunt.” – Ray Rice, On Steelers rivalry