Week 11: Ravens-Steelers preview

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Baltimore at Pittsburgh
Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET, at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh - TV: NBC
*TV announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya
*Keys to the game: What has been a throwback rivalry with traditional mantra of run the ball, stop the run is going the way of the rest of the NFL -- we'll go as far as our quarterback takes us. Ben Roethlisberger has more than adjusted to Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley's offense -- he's thriving in it. Even without WR Antonio Brown, Roethlisberger seems confident and cool, ranking among the league's leaders in passer rating, third-down passer rating and completion percentage. Joe Flacco, who accounted for four touchdowns last week, hasn't been as sharp on the road and the Ravens have a tendency to drift from RB Ray Rice. However, he's still the key to beating Baltimore in the minds of Dick LeBeau's veteran defenders. Baltimore could have to face SS Troy Polamalu, who has missed the past six games with a torn calf muscle.
*Matchup to watch - Steelers LT Max Starks vs. Ravens DE Haloti Ngata: The Ravens are hopeful Ngata returns to his All-Pro form after being dressed but rested in Week 10. Right knee and right shoulder injuries reduced Ngata to a serviceable level and he has been moved off the ball -- and to the ground -- easily in recent weeks. The Steelers know him to be a different beast, one capable of crumbling the pocket and devouring running backs when he's right.
*Player spotlight - Ravens DL Courtney Upshaw: The rookie outside linebacker has been spotted at defensive tackle as coordinator Dean Pees sprinkles in a "dollar" package consisting of fleet personnel with beefy NTs Terrence Cody and Ma'ake Kemoeatu off the field. Expect more of it Sunday; the Raiders had just 72 rushing yards and gave up three sacks last Sunday.
*Fast facts: The past six meetings in Pittsburgh have been decided by an average of 4.7 points. ... Baltimore averages 36.8 points at home, 17.5 on the road.
The Steelers continue to find healthy options to share the backfield with Ben Roethlisberger and most likely found some time during prep for the Chiefs to peek ahead. Joe Flacco had a 300-yard game in his last start at Pittsburgh. It'll come down to who gets the ball last.
*Our pick: Steelers 27-23

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