The Ravens face a major uphill battle Sunday against the Steelers, one I'm not sure they can overcome. In previous games the last couple of years, you could make an argument for either team winning. But on Sunday, the Ravens have a lot of new faces. They're young in the secondary with cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Cary Williams and at tight end with Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta. They also have a new receiver in Lee Evans and backup running back in Ricky Williams.
But the area of most concern is the offensive line, which just hasn't had time to work together. In fact, the first unit hasn't taken one snap together in game conditions. It's safe to assume it will take three to four games for this unit to come together. Yet on Sunday, the Ravens have to play a Pittsburgh defense that has been together for years. You know that Pittsburgh will run all kinds of stunts and games up front, and I'm not sure the Ravens are ready to handle those situations.
To beat the Steelers, you have to neutralize their pass rush which means at least trying to get stalemates with their outside linebackers, LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison. Under normal circumstances, that's a tough task and it won't be any easier Sunday. The Ravens will have to chip with running backs and tight ends, and that will take away from the passing game.
Cleveland or Tennessee would have been a more preferred opener for the Ravens in 2011. The Ravens still have a shot to win because they are at home and this is a rivalry. I wouldn't be shocked if they won, but I'd be surprised. Because of the new additions to the roster and the lock out, I'm not sure the Ravens are ready for a proven and tested team like the Steelers so early in the season.
It might be a different story later in the year.