1st and 10: Ten predictions for Ravens-Steelers

1st and 10: Ten predictions for Ravens-Steelers
November 27, 2013, 6:00 pm
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The crystal ball predicts a whole lot of stuffed faces tomorrow afternoon. But once the food coma wears off, fans should be in for another fantastic battle between the Ravens and Steelers. Here's what the crystal ball sees happening:

1. The Ravens won't use the Wildcat.

All eyes will be on Tyrod Taylor to see if he enters the game -- no doubt much to the chagrin of Joe Flacco. Don't bet on it. The Ravens have put the plays on tape to give the Steelers something to think about, but this will be a smash-mouth, old-school game where the two franchise quarterbacks make the plays.

2. Ray Rice will have a run of longer than 15 yards.

Most years, that wouldn't be saying much. But this year, Rice has exactly one run of more than 15 yards. Still, Rice insists his health has gradually improved since his early-season hip injury, and he'll be running at a 23rd-ranked run defense that is missing starting nose tackle Steve McClendon.

3. Dennis Pitta will not play.

Pitta is in week two of his three-week window to be activated from injured reserve, and there's no doubt a healthy Pitta helps the Ravens. But the short week doesn't help, and it's more likely that Pitta sits Thursday, then has an extra-long week and three more days of practice before being activated for the Minnesota game.

4. Torrey Smith will have fewer than five catches.

The Steelers have done a good job containing Smith in the past. Last season at Heinz Field he went more than 50 minutes without a catch, and he had three catches in the first meeting this season. The Steelers figure to blanket Smith again and make Flacco look elsewhere.

5. The Steelers will not score a rushing touchdown.

The Steelers run game ranks 30th in the league -- lower than the Ravens -- but is gaining traction with rookie Le'Veon Bell. He had 93 rushing yards against the Ravens at Heinz Field six weeks ago. But the Ravens have allowed one rushing touchdown all season, the fewest in the league.

6. Terrell Suggs will get a sack.

Suggs has been fairly quiet of late, getting decent pressure but no sacks in the past three games. He and Ben Roethlisberger have seen plenty of each other over the years, and that will continue.

7. The Ravens defense will record more sacks.

Both teams have offensive line issues. Both teams have allowed 37 sacks, tied for the fifth-most in the league. Roethlisberger can extend plays as well as anyone, but the Ravens will track him down. And Flacco has been under the gun all season, but the Steelers are likely to be missing sack leader LaMarr Woodley (5 sacks), doubtful with a calf injury.

8. There will be more field goals than touchdowns.

Both teams have struggled to find the end zone. The Ravens rank tied for 20th in red zone offense, scoring touchdowns on 51.4 percent of trips inside the opposing 20-yard line. The Steelers rank 31st (42.9), and the Ravens are No. 1 in the league in red zone defense.

9. The deciding points will be scored in the last five minutes.

Four straight Ravens-Steelers games and eight of the past 10 have been decided by exactly three points. The last two, both Steelers wins, were decided on the last play.

10. Ravens 20, Steelers 19

There's no reason to think this will be anything other than another tough, down-to-the-wire, bruiser of a game. But the Ravens season hangs in the balance. A Ravens loss would give the Steelers a huge edge for a playoff spot by virtue of a season series sweep. Joe Flacco is usually at his best on the biggest stage, and a Steelers game on Thanksgiving night with their playoff lives at stake certainly qualifies. Flacco and the Ravens escape with the win.