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Intriguing Game- Week Nine

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens

Steelers: Don’t overlook them now, but they’re finding their rhythm after a rocky start to the season and everything as a football team is simply beginning to click for them. The offensive line is handling its business up front, Ben Roethlisberger has taken much better care of the football as of late, Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster have really become one of the best receiving tandems in the league, but the biggest thing that’s stood out to me has been the emergence of one James Conner. Many were saying that the Steelers offense wouldn’t be able to be as prolific of an offense without Le’Veon Bell and James can duplicate his success which is definitely true, but all he has to do is be himself and that’s exactly what he’s done is play his game and the Steelers offense has thrived off his running. He’s a hard runner that can run the football in between the tackles, he can bounce outside and he has the mindset of scoring each time he touches the football. Their defense hasn’t necessarily been the greatest this year, but they’ve improved across the board as of late and I want to see what they do moving forward. The AFC has been the more competitive conference of the two this season and it’s simply not an AFC race without the Pittsburgh Steelers because they always make things interesting, right? They’ll look to continue their winning ways on Sunday for “Ravens Week”.

Ravens: I’m slowly but surely beginning to drift away from them because after their hot start, they’ve definitely come down to reality and I haven’t been impressed as of late. When I look at their offense, they’re drifting away from the running game and when the Ravens are establishing their ground game, good things tend to happen for them and that’s just how they’re built. Joe Flacco has been in the league far too long to be making the silly throws he makes which results in an interception most of the time and as good as their defense has been, they’ve been absolutely dominated in their last two games. The Saints matched their physicality in week seven and just last week in Charlotte against the Carolina Panthers, that was the worst I’ve seen them look. When you push them around up front, they stay down and Cam Newton carved up the Ravens secondary. Entering the game last Sunday, they had given up 101 points altogether this season. In that particular game, they gave up 36 points to a solid Panthers offense. Just a few weeks ago, I was saying that if there was any team that could challenge New England in the AFC when January rolls around, it was them because they’ve always played the Patriots tough and they’ve shown they could beat them many times. They will look to stop the bleeding on Sunday when the rival comes to town.

Steelers Player To Watch: T.J. Watt– I’m really enjoying the player he’s becoming and he’s provided a much-needed pass rush for the Steelers. He can also drop back into coverage and defend running backs and even tight ends.

Ravens Player To Watch: Alex Collins– When you feed this guy the football, great things happen. He’s a vital part of Baltimore’s offensive attack. Get him involved, don’t shy away from him! He can be a huge difference maker when it’s all said and done.

Final Analysis: This matchup will always grab our attention. When they met in week four, the Ravens went to Heinz and they punched the Steelers in the mouth. Five weeks later, these are two teams who look completely different. The Steelers now sit atop the AFC North and the Ravens are in third place but still in the hunt for the division. These games are always close and always seem to come down to the last four minutes in the fourth quarter. The Steelers need to try and limit these Ravens receivers in the backend. They can’t afford guys like Crabtree and Snead to have big days or it will be a really long day for them. I can’t say this enough, but the Ravens need to run the football! Run it, run it and run it some more.

Prediction: Steelers 24 Ravens 20