I think this Sunday is going to be a season maker or breaker for the Baltimore Ravens. If they can get by this first game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, they will be on a good path toward the playoffs. This past week’s game 55-20 was a phenomenal game. It was like the coming out party for our Ravens. They had been playing real sloppy football the past few weeks and now we’re seeing a shift in momentum. The bye week really had a good effect on the team. When you’re playing football, it’s a really tough game on your body. You get banged up pretty quick. A good rest once in a while in necessary for not just your body but your mind as well. The Ravens bye week came at a perfect time and John Harbaugh, who I think is a great coach, gave these guys a couple of days off to rest to be with their families, to take it easy, and to get away from football. Then, they returned refreshed and with a positive attitude. I think the game against the Oakland Raiders was a good indication of what the Ravens bye week did for them. Despite being against an “easy” team, coming out with such an extraordinary lead was impressive. It will be what gives them the momentum for this upcoming game against Pittsburgh.
With Roethlisberger having a separated shoulder, the Ravens will have to play against the back-up quarterback. A separated shoulder could mean Roethlisberger will be out both times the Ravens face the Steelers. That is a good thing for the Baltimore Ravens. I have a lot of respect for Ben Roethlisberger. He is a real leader on his team and makes things happen.
Even with Roethlisberger out of the picture, Baltimore still has a tough challenge ahead. The Steelers have a good defensive ball club. The defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dick LeBeau, is a good friend of mine. He has been in the league for 45 years now. He has many years of experience in coaching. He has a knack for coming up with different and unique defensive plays so the Ravens HAVE to be prepared for anything he might throw at them. LeBeau could come up with 3 to 4, 4 to 3, and 4 to 4 defenses. He can also come up with 1 coverages, 2 coverages, combination coverages, zone coverages… it’s all different things he can come up with that give a different view. LeBeau really likes to try to confuse our quarterback. When that happens, he will have Joe Flacco throwing into a spot he thinks will be open but somebody will be there and that’s how turn overs happen. We cannot have those turn overs.
Another problem the Ravens face is the Pittsburgh crowd. The noise that crowd makes really can rattle the players and it up to them to pick up on the signals. Sometimes, when the quarterback comes in the line of scrimmage, he recognizes a specific defense and tries to automatic and it can be extremely difficult for the players to hear. The best thing the team could do in Pittsburgh would be to jump out to a lead right away. Taking the lead early quiets the crowd making the rest of the game easier for the players to communicate.
If the Ravens take this game on Sunday, I think they will make it to the play offs.