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5 Things To Watch At Steelers


The Ravens and Steelers will square off for the first time this year and it will go a long way in shaping the AFC North picture.

Here are five things to watch on Thursday Night Football starting at 8:25 p.m.:

Ravens vs. Antonio Brown

Just after Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green torched the Ravens secondary, another elite AFC North wideout is coming around the corner. Antonio Brown plays quite differently than Green, standing in at 5-foot-10, 181 pounds, but he's got more than enough speed and small-space quickness to make defenders miss. This week, Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin and Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said Brown is like a young Steve Smith Sr. in that he's incredibly difficult to bring down. Brown is second in the NFL with 436 receiving yards already, and he'll be a major test for the Ravens secondary that is looking to bounce back.

Pittsburgh Will Run And Run

The Steelers' Le'Veon Bell missed last year's AFC wild-card playoff game, a 30-17 Ravens win, due to a knee injury. He's back and is one of the best running backs in the game. Bell said he's aware of the Ravens' 29-game streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher. He'll be looking to break that along with backup DeAngelo Williams, who performed quite well while Bell was suspended for two games. With quarterback Ben Roethlisberger out, expect the Steelers to test Baltimore's run defense, which is tied for fourth in the league, allowing just 3.4 yards per carry.

The Vick Effect

New Steelers starting quarterback Michael Vick will definitely bring a different dynamic than Roethlisberger. The Ravens enjoyed pass rushing Roethlisberger, who likes to stand tall in the pocket and wait for his receivers to get open deep. Baltimore could almost count on one big shot on him per game. While not quite as spry as he used to be, the 35-year-old Vick will certainly be more elusive than Big Ben. The Ravens need to make sure he doesn't beat them with his legs.

More Targets For Flacco

Steve Smith Sr.'s 40 targets are the third most in the NFL so far this season, trailing only Atlanta's Julio Jones and New England's Julian Edelman. After Sunday's loss to the Bengals, quarterback Joe Flacco said it's hard not to give Smith the ball considering he's playing so well, but that the Ravens offense has to find other targets. Wide receiver Michael Campanaro got more of a look on offense last week and Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown may be leaned on more heavily, especially since tight end Crockett Gillmore (calf) is sidelined.

Ravens' Finish Move

With so many of the Ravens-Steelers tilts being decided by less than a touchdown, it's going to come down to who make plays at the end. That's been a problem for Baltimore thus far this season. They're the only team in the NFL to have all three games decided by six points or less, and the Ravens are 0-3. Perhaps Pittsburgh, a place where Flacco has thrown multiple last-minute touchdowns and the defense has come up with game-changing turnovers, is the place to start.

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