Steelers Opponent Preview: More of the Baltimore Ravens
I titled this preview a few months ago when I first set up the schedule, and it is strangely inappropriate. Because of course what we’re getting tomorrow will not be the Ravens as we know them but a combination of an NFL roster and JV team . As opposed to a regular injury report, I’m going to contrast the offensive roster for the previous game with the teams which will be fielded Sunday. It’s pretty compelling reading:
(A few of the names on the Ravens’ side are guesses, between the game box score and the current depth chart.) The defenses for both teams have a few changes, but not nearly to the extent of the offense. The Ravens’ secondary has been banged up all season, so it is just a different combination of DBs, really. The Steelers have made some tweaks to the scheme, but unless Will Allen and/or Mike Mitchell are unable to play, the two teams should look a lot more similar in the defense than they do in the offense.
I ended the opponent preview for the Week 5 game with these words:
Really, it’s anybody’s guess how it is going to come out, but at the moment the preponderance of evidence would seem to favor the Ravens, just because we have little idea what to expect out of a Michael Vick-led offense. I’m hoping we will all be mightily surprised (in a positive way, naturally.)
The only actual prediction I will make is, someone is going to get hurt. I just hope it isn’t someone else as central to the hopes of either team as Terrell Suggs or Ben Roethlisberger.
My prediction was unfortunately true, in both phases. Fortunately for the Steelers, the player to be badly hurt was a Raven, Michael Campanaro. He was hurt running past Antwon Blake and was put on IR the following week. Which is sad on so many levels.
Everybody who is guessing is favoring the Steelers this time. The Steelers are about as healthy as one could hope for at this time of year, and the replacements for the really major injuries have had time to learn on the job. It would be a pretty major upset for the Steelers to lose, although they haven’t played well at M&T Bank Stadium in recent years. However, most of the time they were playing a team who was fairly even in talent level.
Saying all this makes me pretty nervous. But I do think the Steelers have a singular focus—to make it to the playoffs and beyond.
On the other hand, I think the Ravens have a divided focus. A great many of the players haven’t been involved in the classic rivalry. Furthermore, in their hearts they all know that the Ravens are better served by a higher draft position than by a Week 16 win. And no one wants to get badly hurt at this point in the season.
But there are a few things which make the game still meaningful. First of all, many of the players are thoroughly steeped in Steelers-Ravens, and would love to take the Steelers down with them. Putting a hurt on a few of them probably wouldn’t sadden them unduly either. This is also an audition of sorts for the players from way down the depth chart who have been thrust into playing time through the bad fortune of others. They may be auditioning for more playing time next season, or for finding another team, but they do have some skin in the game.
So that’s all I’ve got. In honor of the holiday I have asked my sons to help out. I was hoping for incisive analysis, but they are both in food comas, so we’ll take what we can get. Here’s younger son Edmund:
The Ravens are a bunch of chumps. It will definitely still be a close game. It has a chance of resembling Steelers-Ravens of old, because as battered as the offense is, the Steelers’ D has a chance to look more impressive than it is…
This game makes me way more nervous than it ought to.
Thanks, guys. It was like pulling teeth. Food comas are tricky things.
So instead I will share a story from this past August. I have a feeling I wrote something about it at the time, but a quick search isn’t turning it up, so please forgive me if this is a repeat.
My husband had just left for a lengthy business trip. I was very busy with many things when my doorbell rang. My next-door neighbor was standing outside the door, and informed me that there was a dead bird in my yard. I’m thinking “so what,” but he continued that it was a very large bird, and it was close to his driveway, and it was starting to attract flies, and to be honest it was kind of freaking him out.
So I got out a shovel and a garbage bag and headed out to the garden. I found the bird without a problem, as it was indeed pretty large. It was a raven. It was definitely dead. So I scooped it up, chucked it in the garbage bag, and took it to the trash can. As I walked back in the house I found myself wondering if there was any significance to it. (It was shortly after I wrote the sports superstitions article linked below.)
I then promptly forgot about it until today, when a story someone else told prompted this one, and I realized that the Ravens are indeed the walking dead, and have been all season. So I guess the raven must have quoth “nevermore” just before expiring.
So please, everyone, be sure to adjust your Steelers paraphernalia in the approved manner (for suggestions check here ) and Go, Steelers!