The Stillers, going nowhere but down, face a rising Raven team that whipped up on Tennessee last week. Unbelievably, the Vegas oddsmakers have the Stillers as 1 1/2 point favorites. Yes, I'm well aware that bettors actually make the spread by putting their money where their mouth is, but given the play of these 2 teams, I find it appalling that the Stillers are favored. Playing at 3 Rivers means nothing this season; the home field advantage has produced a 1-4 record for the Stillers.
As a connoisseur of defense I'm looking forward to watching some outstanding linebacking play this Sunday. No, dummy -- not the Stillers --- I'm referring to the Ravens. The Ravens have 1 of the finest LB corps in the league, led by All-World Ray Lewis and supported by OLBs Jamie Sharper and Peter Boulware. The thing I enjoy watching with these three LBs is their raw speed and hunger at GETTING to the football. These guys FLY to the ball at mach speed, making our OLBs look like Ford Escorts in comparison. In his heyday, Levon Kirkland was even better than Ray Lewis. No more. With Kirkland weighing in at a portly 285, he doesn�t have ANYWHERE near the speed, quickness, or acceleration of Ray Lewis.
The Raven run defense is #2 in the NFL, led by DL McCrary and The Goose, ex-Pitt Panther Siragusa. With their aggressive, superb run-blitzing scheme, the Ravens will UNQUESTIONABLY shut down our running game, unless Amos is inserted for more than a token play or 2 (and even at that, we stand little chance of ground success). Dermontti Dawson or not, our OL will leak like a sieve against this front 7, and Bettis will be tripping over penetration all afternoon. The Raven pass defense is so-so, but can easily contain Mike Prozac and his feeble, scattershot arm.
The Raven offense is considerably better than the one we faced in week #2. Scott Mitchell is on the bench, as is Stoney Case. QB Tony Banks leads the offense, and he's coming off a couple big games --- HUGE games by Steeler standards. RB Rhett, who had many good gainers in the last meeting, should find as many, if not more, on Sunday. The Ravens will surely study film and run off-tackle at will, especially behind LT Ogden. The Ravens receiving corps is enough to cause headaches, too. Ismail and PAt Johnson form a top-notch duo capable of beating teams deep, and Jermaine Lewis is a nifty guy to throw into the mix. Lewis is also liable to break a long return on special teams against the velvet-soft Steeler coverage teams. AJ Pedophile is the Raven TE.
With 10 days between games and a chip on their shoulder, the Stillers should come out ready and raring to go for this game. This should keep them in the game. However, I see no plausible reason for us to actually win this game. The Raven defense will bottle us the entire day, giving their offense some golden field position. Final score, Ravens 20- Stillers 13.
The Still Mill