By Matt Vensel, The Baltimore Sun
10:58 AM EST, November 27, 2013
If a national television audience can win its showdown with tryptophan, it will be treated to another thriller between the Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, who have played three-point games in eight of their past nine meetings. I picked the home team to win this one, but in this rivalry, the only prediction I will feel good about on Thanksgiving night is that I will have eaten way too much turkey before kickoff.
1. TYROD TAYLOR WILL GET FEWER THAN FIVE SNAPS:
The talk in Baltimore this week has centered on who was under center for the Ravens. Joe Flacco made it clear to both the media and the coaching staff that he was not a fan of the two-quarterback offense the Ravens busted out in the win over the New York Jets. Coach John Harbaugh was noncommittal about whether we will see the scheme, which put backup Tyrod Taylor at quarterback and Flacco out at wide receiver, against the Steelers. The Ravens may throw Taylor out there for a play or two to give the Steelers something to think about, but they know Flacco's arm must propel them to a victory.
2. TERRELL SUGGS WILL RECLAIM THE TEAM SACK LEAD:
After recording nine sacks in the first half of the season, Suggs has now gone three games without bringing down the quarterback. He has still been getting pressure, though. According to Pro Football Focus, Suggs has averaged four total pressures per game over that span — exactly what he averaged in his first eight games. Plus, Suggs has a knack for sacking Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. No player has toppled Big Ben more often than Suggs, who sacked him once in Week 7. Look for Suggs to have a big game and overtake Elvis Dumervil, who leads the Ravens with 9.5 sacks.
3. THE STEELERS WILL RUSH FOR TWO TOUCHDOWNS:
The Ravens have been one of the NFL's best defenses against the run this season, especially near the goal line. They have allowed just one rushing touchdown, tops in the NFL and two fewer than the Carolina Panthers, who are second with three rushing touchdowns allowed. But that will change Thursday night. The Steelers may look to move the ball mostly through the air, but when they get near the goal line, which is bound to happen a couple of times, they will get it done with the ground game. Look for rookie back Le'Veon Bell to score one touchdown and Roethlisberger to dive in for another.
4. JOE FLACCO WILL NOT THROW AN INTERCEPTION:
Lost in all the buzz about the two-quarterback offense was that Flacco played his best game in weeks against the Jets. Flacco threw for 273 yards and a 66-yard touchdown while averaging 10.5 yards per attempt. He did throw another interception, making it four straight games with a pick, though it appeared to be the result of a wide receiver running the wrong route. Flacco has thrown 14 interceptions this season and six in his past four games, but he is at his best in high-pressure games like this one. Flacco will have an interception-free Thanksgiving, something Ravens fans will be thankful for.
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