December 27, 2007

Brian Billick Has A Whole Bag of "Sh" With Your Name On It...

"Looking at the Ravens, they are a rival of ours. I know they have fallen on some tough times, but you can throw records out of the window when we play Baltimore. They’re going to play to win, we’re going to play to win."
- Mike Tomlin
Yep, there's no better division, full of heated rivalries, than the AFC North. Whether it's Bengals-Browns, Ravens-Bengals, Steelers-Ravens, etc., you pretty much know it will be a hard fought game. Normally that is...

However, as far as this Sunday's matchup goes - the Steelers have already won the division, and since the only way to clinch a #3 seed is for the Chargers to lose against the Raiders while we beat the Ravens, this game does not really mean much more than division bragging rights. That's enough for the Ravens no doubt, but for the Steelers, some of whom are literally limping into the post season, it might be hard to justify throwing them out there against a physical team like the Ravens, who will be on a manhunt. I guess what I'm saying is - I'd like to win this game, but I'd prefer to try and do it without Big Ben, Troy Polamalu, Marvell Smith and anyone else who is still nursing a shoulder or an ankle or a back, etc. etc.

And honestly, it wouldn't exactly be an unfair fight to put our #2s out there against the Ravens. Mostly because, just like many of the teams with losing records in 2007, the Ravens come into this weekend's game with a laundry list of injuries. In actuality we'll be facing a lot of their #2s and in some cases, #3s. The full Ravens injury report looks like this:

Steve McNair - Out (IR)
Kyle Boller - Out
Willis McGahee - Out
Mike Anderson - Out (Maybe - Limited in practice)
Demetrious Williams - Out (Though I hear he's "intent" on playing)
Michael Clayton - Out (Maybe - Did not practice)
Todd Heap - Out
Quinn Sypniewski - Out
Daniel Wilcox (#3 TE) - Out (Maybe - Did not practice)
Jonathan Ogden - Out (Maybe - Limited in practice)
Kelly Gregg - Out
Trevor Pryce - Out (IR)
Ray Lewis - Out
Chris McAllister - Out (IR)
Samari Rolle - Out (IR)

And the list may go on, I don't even know. Maybe even Brian Billick is injured...errrr, nevermind, I forgot - Brian Billick is impervious to all conventional weapons.

Injuries aside, the Ravens are pretty much who we think they are - anemic offense and bruising defense. After starting the season as the defending AFC North champs and amassing a 4-2 record through their 1st six games, the Ravens have dropped EVERY LAST ONE of their last NINE games, which brings them home to BMore this Sunday a disappointing 4-11.

It's hard to compare us to them given the troubles they have had this season, but I'll do it anyway, because (a) I'm a dick, and (b) This is just what I do on Thursdays and god forbid I break routine. Check out the numbers below and we'll talk a little more after.

Rushing Yards: BMore ~ 1617 (#18) | Pit ~ 2122 (#3)
Passing Yards: BMore ~ 3137 (#23) | Pit ~ 3200 (#20)
Total Yards: BMore ~ 4754 (#23) | Pit ~ 5322 (#10)
Points Scored: BMore ~ 248 (#25) | Pit ~ 372 (#8)

Rushing Yds. Allowed: BMore ~ 1222 (#2) | Pit ~ 1258 (#3)
Passing Yds. Allowed: BMore ~ 3522 (#18) | Pit ~ 2896 (#4)
Total Yards Allowed: BMore ~ 4744 (#6) | Pit ~ 4154 (#1)
Points Against: BMore ~ 363 (#24) | Pit ~ 242 (#3)

So...the Ravens Offense...uh, what Offense? Previously, this is where I would have mentioned Willis McGahee, the threats he presents and maybe even Steve McNair or Kyle Boller and the treats they present, but none of those guys are playing on Sunday. In their respective places will be a tandem of Smiths - Musa at RB and Troy at QB. On top of that, without Todd Heap and Demetrious Williams to throw to, or Jonathon Ogden to block, things might be pretty tough for the Smiths and the rest of the Ravens Offense. Still, Todd Collins has the Redskins on a roll so I guess anything's possible...and plus, we know that even the Ravens 3rd stringers would love to beat the Steelers and contribute to keeping them from securing a #3 seed for the playoffs. So I'm not counting the Ravens O out by any means.

Anyways, the Ravens Defense...well, it's the Ravens Defense. Ray Lewis or not, these guys are going to be hungry and looking for any opportunity to HIT us HARD. Bart Scott (the Mad Backer) and Terrell Suggs (T-Sizzle) are probably already salivating at the idea. Fittingly, those two, along with Safety Ed Reed are going to be our biggest "worries" on Sunday. But beyond them, the Ravens D Line is down 2 of 3 starters and the secondary is down 2 of 4. Bottom line - no point risking Big Ben's health putting him out there against guys who have nothing more to play for than spilling blood.

Overall, like I've already said - really, this game means nothing. Even if we were to win and San Diego was upset by Oakland, giving us the 3 seed, we'd still have to play against the best (you know who I'm talking about) if we have any hopes of winning the ultimate prize. So I personally am fine with the #4 spot. Bring on the Jags.

What do you guys think? Does it make sense to rest the starters? Are you worried about what's left of BMore's defense? Do you think Troy Smith does a good mini-me impression?

Oh, and speaking of - in case you're wondering where Mini Me is in the image above...see below.

2007 Ravens Stats [Pro-football-reference]
More Ravens Stats [ESPN]
2007 Steelers Stats [Pro-football-reference]
Ravens Injuries [ESPN]
Steelers Will Go For #3 Seed []
Tomlin Outlines Injuries, Baltimore Game Plan [KDKA]
Motivated? For Ravens? Steelers Say No Problem [Associated Press]

Ballhype: hype it up!


Anonymous said...

Hell, if it were up to me, I'd rest every single one of our starters. We'd still be able to beat them with our scrubs, so no worries there. And even if we don't, who cares!!

Anonymous said...

Exactly. Rest everyone. Heck, let Brian St. Pierre play. It would be a good match-up, him vs. Troy Smith. The last thing we need is someone like Bart Scott taking a cheap shot at Hines or Ben from behind. That guy's a freaking whack job.

troubledjew said...

i think we should use this game to experiment with our d-line and o-line. i mean throw some rookies in there use some different schemes see what we can do to stop a pass rush and give some room for whoevers running the ball.the ravens will be playing hard and they have a good d-line so it will be interesting to see if we can protect whoever is behind center. their o-line has allowed 37 sacks so maybe we can try some blitzing just to see if we can play real football not two hand touch. i think this game is an opportunity for the steelers to practice for next year.try someone different at center etc

Cotter said...

St. Pierre, ha! Yes, solid comment.

I'm actually really hoping they show us some of what Gary Russell can do in this game. He hasn't gotten much of a chance to play, but he looked good in preseason, and could have been a monster at Minnesota -- He was poised to assume the starting job after his 1100 yard, 18 TD junior season (in only 12 games, when he shared the position with Laurence Maroney), but then he had some academic problems or something.

PS - is it just me, or are my posts really dry this week? Since when did I get all serious and shit?

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

Sunday should be a day of rest.

Cotter said...

Day of rest indeed. Amen brother.

I'll be resting my inhibitions (but not my liver) and drinking generously with the satisfaction of not having to work Monday.

Tobiathan said...

I agree on the issue of second-stringers. I'm all in favor of playing exclusively with back-ups on Sunday. The work would do them all good, and we don't know who might go down in the post-season. And this defense will still test our #2 offense well.

I also like the idea of trying out a new center. Mahan has been totally manhandled in the middle a lot this year. It would be great to see if Marvin Phillip is any kind of option there.

Playing around with the defensive front sounds like a good idea too. If a few of these back-ups can get in and play well, rack up a few regular-season stats it would give them more confidence in the post-season. Not to mention letting coach figure out where everybody is at. After sitting on the bench all year a few of these guys might be rusty.

It that Troy Smith a Minime? It sure looks like Ray-Ray, but younger....

And yes, Cotter- you sound a little dry lately. Too much turkey dinner mayhap??