Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco walks off the field after the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Ravens 19-16 on Oct. 20. (Vincent Pugliese, Getty Images / October 20, 2013)

RAVENS PASSING GAME: Quarterback Joe Flacco played one of his better games this season in a 19-16 loss to the Steelers on Oct. 20. He completed 24 of 34 passes for 215 yards and one touchdown and no interceptions. Since that game, he's thrown as many interceptions (six) as touchdowns. Flacco was sacked just once by the Steelers in the first matchup, but only the Miami Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill has been sacked more this season. Torrey Smith, the Ravens' top receiver, will likely see a lot of cornerback Ike Taylor.

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STEELERS PASSING GAME: Ben Roethlisberger has gotten hot at the wrong time for the Ravens, and his recent strong play has coincided with the Steelers' decision to go more with a no-huddle offense. In his past four games, he has thrown 11 touchdown passes and three interceptions. The most pleasing development for the Steelers is that he's been sacked just once over the past two contests. Wide receiver Antonio Brown leads the league with 80 catches and is second in the NFL with 1,044 receiving yards.

EDGE: STEELERS


RAVENS RUNNING GAME: Without the Chicago Bears defense to push around, the Ravens' running game crashed back to Earth last week against the New York Jets' top-ranked run defense. Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce were held to 30 yards apiece and the Ravens averaged just 2.2 yards per carry. In his career against the Steelers, Rice has hit the 100-yard plateau twice in 10 career games. It will be interesting to see what role backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor has on offense this week.

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STEELERS RUNNING GAME: While the Steelers have improved steadily in many facets this season, their running game is not one of them. They average just 77.3 rushing yards per game, which ranks 30th in the NFL. The Ravens are one of the few teams that the Steelers have run the ball against, as Pittsburgh gained a season-high 141 yards on the ground in the previous matchup. Rookie Le'Veon Bell rushed for a season-high 93 yards in that game, and his patience and shiftiness gave the Ravens all sorts of problems.

EDGE: EVEN

 

RAVENS RUSH DEFENSE: The Ravens have permitted more than 100 rushing yards in five of the past six games, but they really haven't allowed teams to dictate the play with their running games. They've also allowed next to nothing on the ground in the red zone. They've surrendered one rushing touchdown all year, and that was back in Week 4. One of their worst performances came in the early-season loss to Pittsburgh, when they were repeatedly gouged up the middle by Bell.

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STEELERS RUSH DEFENSE: The Steelers haven't been their usual stout selves against the run, though they were all over Rice and company earlier this season. The Ravens had just 82 rushing yards that game and averaged 3.2 yards per carry. For the season, the Steelers are allowing 118.8 rushing yards per game, which ranks third in the NFL. Right inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons leads Pittsburgh with 108 tackles. Nose tackle Steve McLendon will miss the game with an ankle injury.

EDGE: RAVENS

 

RAVENS PASS DEFENSE: Quietly, it's all starting to come together for the Ravens secondary, which is getting strong cornerback play from the trio of Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb and Corey Graham. The Ravens have five interceptions during the past three games after having only four picks in their first eight. Terrell Suggs has been held without a sack three straight games. As usual against the Steelers, getting pressure on Roethlisberger and containing wide receiver Brown will be the focuses.

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STEELERS PASS DEFENSE: A big reason for the Steelers' recent turnaround has been their ability to get pressure on quarterbacks and create turnovers, two things that Dick LeBeau's group uncharacteristically struggled with early on. During its three-game winning streak, Pittsburgh has created eight turnovers and recorded 10 sacks. Safety Troy Polamalu might not be his old self, but he still flashes the ability to make big plays. Pittsburgh is allowing just 224.4 passing yards per game, 10th-best in the NFL.

EDGE: STEELERS