RAVENS RUSH DEFENSE: In two of the past three games, the Ravens have looked vulnerable against the run, and Packers rookie Eddie Lacy gained 120 yards on 23 carries against them last week. But they still have allowed just one rushing touchdown all season, tying the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a league low. They also are holding the opposition to 98.2 yards rushing per game, which is tied for seventh in the NFL. Middle linebacker Daryl Smith leads the Ravens with 53 tackles. The Ravens could use more from nose tackle Haloti Ngata.
STEELERS RUSH DEFENSE: Pittsburgh had the second stingiest run defense in the NFL last year, but the Steelers have slipped in that area as well. They currently rank 22nd in the NFL, allowing 114.8 yards per game on the ground. They've also surrendered six rushing touchdowns, more than just three NFL teams. Inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons leads the Steelers with 46 tackles, but Pittsburgh has missed big nose tackle Casey Hampton. Rookie starting linebacker Jarvis Jones is dealing with a concussion.
RAVENS PASS DEFENSE: No defensive player has terrorized Ben Roethlisberger more than Ravens rush linebacker Terrell Suggs, who has sacked the Steelers quarterback 15 ½ times. The Ravens, who rank second in the NFL with 22 sacks, continue to excel at creating pressure with their front four. However, communication issues and missed tackles are still too common. The defensive backs will need to be extra disciplined this week, considering Roethlisberger's ability to improvise and extend plays.
STEELERS PASS DEFENSE: The healthy return of Troy Polamalu has been a positive development for the Steelers, whose secondary is playing at a high level. The Steelers have allowed a league-low four passing touchdowns this season, thanks largely to the play of veteran safety Ryan Clark and cornerbacks Ike Taylor and Cortez Allen. Despite the presence of LaMarr Woodley, the Steelers have struggled to mount a consistent pass rush and force turnovers. They have a negative-nine turnover ratio.
RAVENS SPECIAL TEAMS: The Ravens continue to take the good with the bad on special teams. Ill-timed penalties have affected their field position, and punter Sam Koch has gotten two punts blocked in the past six weeks after that hadn't happened since the 2009 season. However, Justin Tucker has hit 10 straight field-goal attempts, and Jacoby Jones and Tandon Doss have settled into a dangerous return tandem. Jones beat the Steelers with a punt return touchdown in the Ravens' most recent visit to Heinz Field.
STEELERS SPECIAL TEAMS: Kicker Shaun Suisham, who beat the Ravens with a 42-yard field goal as time expired in the most recent meeting between the teams, is 10-for-10 this season on field-goal attempts. Signed after he was released by the New England Patriots, punter Zoltan Mesko has struggled, averaging just 42.7 yards per punt, the second-worst average in the NFL. He's also placed just two punts inside the opponent's 20. Antonio Brown and Felix Jones are the Steelers' primary return men.
RAVENS INTANGIBLES: The Ravens have won three straight games in Pittsburgh, all by a three-point margin, so they certainly won't be affected by the hostile environment. Injuries also don't figure to play a big factor, as the Ravens are as healthy as they have been all season. Under John Harbaugh, the Ravens are 22-9 against AFC North opponents, and they've won 13 of their past 15 divisional games. They also understand the magnitude of this game, not wanting to fall to 3-4 heading into their bye week.