1st and 10: Ten predictions for Ravens-Steelers

1st and 10: Ten predictions for Ravens-Steelers
December 1, 2012, 6:00 pm
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1. Ray Rice will not rush for 100 yards. ...

The Steelers bottled up Rice at Heinz Field two weeks ago, holding him to 40 yards on 20 carries. The Steelers rank fifth in the league in rushing defense, allowing 91.5 yards a game. Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley (ankle) is out, but the Steelers will bring their 'A' game defensively and make Rice earn every yard he gets.

2. ... but he will get his 20 touches.

Don't expect Rice to catch any check-downs on fourth-and-29, but expect him to have the ball in his hands plenty. Since 2010, the Ravens are 26-3 when Rice has at least 20 touches. This year, he's topped 20 touches in only six of 11 games. One was at Pittsburgh, where he had 20 rushes and five receptions (for 53 yards). Expect him to be effective as a rusher and receiver again.

3. Joe Flacco will complete at least 60 percent of his passes.

Maybe it's something in the water, but Flacco's throws simply seem to have more zip and more accuracy at home. This season, Flacco has a completion percentage of .665 at home and .553 on the road.  Flacco, though, was 20-for-32 (.625) for 164 yards at Heinz Field two weeks ago.

4. Anquan Boldin will have at least five receptions.

The Steelers bottled up Torrey Smith last meeting (one catch, 7 yards), but could not do the same with Boldin, who made eight catches for 79 yards. In six career games against the Steelers, Boldin has averaging 6.5 catches and about 91 yards

5. The Ravens will have a touchdown drive of fewer than 40 yards.

The Ravens are facing the league's No. 1-ranked defense, which is likely to have Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu back, but the Ravens are overdue to find the end zone. They have one offensive touchdown in their past two games, both on the road. Things just run more smoothly at home. Look for a turnover to set them up with a short field.

6. Jonathan Dwyer will have a rush of 20+ yards.

If the Steelers can keep the game close, expect them to try to keep the ball on the ground, and Dwyer is the starter this week. He had 12 carries for 55 yards against the Ravens two weeks ago and will test the Ravens' 26th-ranked run defense.

7. The Ravens will intercept Charlie Batch.

Making his first start of the season last week for the Steelers, Batch was picked off three times by the Browns. If the Ravens can get a decent lead, Batch will be forced to throw often, and the Ravens secondary will be ready to pounce.

8. The Ravens will win the turnover battle.

One major reason for the Ravens success, even when the offense is struggling, is that they aren't giving the ball away. The Ravens have just one turnover in their past four games and are at plus-12 in turnover differential for the season, fourth-best in the league. Not only did Batch throw three picks last week, but no Steelers running back could hold on to the ball. The Steelers fumbled eight times at Cleveland, losing five.

9. Charlie Batch will be sacked at least twice.

Paul Kruger dominated Steelers rookie tackle Mike Adams the last time these teams met, and Adams is out with an ankle injury. he will be replaced by rookie Kelvin Beachum, who has played in three games this season. Guard Willie Colon (knee) is questionable. The Ravens had six sacks last week, and they will pin their ears back and go after the 37-year-old Batch in passing situations.

10. Ravens 27, Steelers 13

If the Steelers can run the ball effectively -- and hold on to it -- they can stay in this game even without Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers inexplicably went away from that last time these teams met; Byron Leftwich threw 39 times, and the Dwyer-Mendenhall-Redman running trio totaled just 24 carries in a three-point game. The loss of Roethlisberger was too much to overcome at Heinz Field, and it will be in Baltimore as well. Five of the last seven in this series have been decided by three points. This time, though, the Ravens roll to their 16th straight home win.