High Noon in Dodge City: Ravens @ Steelers
It always seems to come down to this, doesn’t it? Last year’s contest in December was a notable exception, and perhaps that is why it was such a weird game—it’s so unusual for so little to be riding on the final Steelers/Ravens game.
Parsonpriem pointed out some fascinating information which hadn’t really occurred to me to look at about the Ravens’ road record and how much worse they have been on the road, even than the Steelers. You can see his whole comment here, but here is the essence of it:
On the road over the past 5 years the Ravens are currently 18-28 compared to 35-13 at home. For comparison, the Steelers are 33-13 at home and 23-23 on the road in that same span. Whatever Roethlisberger’s road woes may derive from, at least we don’t have a team-wide problem like the Ravens seem to.]
So my question was whether Joe Flacco has similar home/road splits to Ben, because as you have no doubt worked out by now, I’m pretty interested in the issue. So I put his info into the same format as I’ve been putting Ben’s and looked at the results. Here they are, and for comparison I’ve put Ben’s charts next to them:
I’m no stats expert by any means, but looking at this makes me feel that parsonpriem’s comment about the Ravens’ home/road splits being a team-wide problem is correct. Obviously, other than his first season, Flacco has been better at home than on the road, but the numbers (other than his wretched QBR in 2012) aren’t that much out of line.
None of this means a great deal in terms of a single game, of course. As Steeler fans know to their cost, the Ravens appear to always be able to put together a good effort against the Steelers, no matter how bad they look against everyone else. Familiarity may or may not breed contempt, but it does breed familiarity, and there aren’t likely to be many surprises from either team at this point.
Although the Ravens began the season rather poorly they have really pulled things together, both defensively and to a lesser extent offensively. While the offense remains somewhat streaky, the defense is one of the best, if not the best, in the league, particularly against the run.
So let’s turn to our old friend Football Outsiders to see what this week’s rankings look like. We’ll start with defense, since this is the strength of the team:
- Ravens: No 2 overall, (last week No. 2); No. 6 against the pass, No. 1 against the run
- Steelers: No. 9 overall (last week No. 9); No. 13 against the pass, No. 9 against the run.
- Ravens: No. 6 in run blocking, No. 14 in pass protection.
- Steelers: No. 11 in run blocking, No. 17 in pass protection.
- Ravens: No. 25 overall (last week No. 26); No. 23 in rushing, No. 31 in passing ranking.
- Steelers: No. 10 overall (last week No. 9); No. 6 in rushing, No. 28 in passing.
- Ravens: No. 21 in run blocking, No. 7 in pass protection.
- Steelers: No. 4 in run blocking, No. 2 in pass protection.
I suppose really what one ought to do is to juxtapose the lines that will be playing against each other. When the Steelers have the ball:
- Ravens’ defensive line (No. 6) against Steelers’ offensive line (No. 4.) Advantage, Steelers, in theory.
- Ravens’ defensive line (No. 14) vs. Steelers’ offensive line (No. 2.) Large advantage, Steelers, again in theory.
When the Ravens have the ball:
Steelers’ defensive line (No. 11 in run blocking) vs. Ravens’ offensive line (No. 21 in run blocking.) Advantage, Steelers.
Steelers’ defensive line (No.17 in pass protection) vs. Ravens’ offensive line (No. 7 in pass protection.) Advantage, Ravens.
So in theory the Steelers have the advantage in everything except defending the pass. But as we all know anything can happen on Sunday. In the end it is probably going to come down to whether Ben is having a good home day and Joe is having a bad road day. I wish I could predict the chances of that…
So I recommend that we all have a wonderful Christmas with our families and keep the Steelers game in perspective.
And speaking of the game, I am having a (grand)child’s Christmas in Wales—I’m visiting five of my grandchildren who live here. So the game doesn’t even begin until 9;30 at night, and that’s if I can actually figure out a way to watch it. All this by way of saying that Monday morning’s game recap might actually end up being Monday noon’s game recap…