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5 Things To Watch vs. Pittsburgh Steelers


Here are five things to watch:

Ravens Stopping The Run

Ravens defenders regularly preach the importance of stopping the run. That focus has been reinforced throughout the week after Eagles running back Ryan Mathews gashed the unit for 128 rushing yards last Sunday. Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell is one of the best in the league and he's rushed for 447 yards over the last three games, so the Ravens can't afford to have another lackluster performance against the run. The Steelers weren't able to establish a consistent ground game with Bell in the first meeting between these teams in Week 9 – Bell finished with just 32 yards – and the Ravens hope to replicate that storyline this week.

Secondary Without J. Smith

The secondary survived without top cornerback Jimmy Smith last week against Philadelphia, but the task now gets much more difficult against wide receiver Antonio Brown. The NFL's third-leading receiver has the ability to beat virtually any defensive back in one-on-one coverage, so Ravens Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees will have to draw up some creative schemes to stop Brown's big-play ability. Another component to watch is how the Steelers respond if the Ravens commit the bulk of their resources to stopping Brown. Pittsburgh has speed all over the field, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger knows how to find the soft spots in the defense. The Ravens need cornerbacks Shareece Wright, Tavon Young and Jerraud Powers to be at their best this week to stop a potent Pittsburgh attack.

Will Ravens Commit To Run Game?

The Ravens are coming off a week where the offense put up 151 rushing yards and averaged 6.3 yards per carry. The tendency to move away from the ground game has been a talking point all season for the Ravens, so it will be interesting to see how Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg approaches the game plan this week. Running backs Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon have both played well recently, but the Ravens have been more inclined to air it out with quarterback Joe Flacco. The Ravens want to keep Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense watching from the sidelines, and one way to do that is to get the running game in gear.

Can Stanley Bounce Back Against Harrison?

The last meeting between Ravens rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley and Steelers pass rusher James Harrison didn't go so well for Baltimore's first-round pick. Harrison finished with a pair of sacks, forced a fumble and also drew four penalties on Stanley. It was a day to forget for the rookie, who was playing in his first game back from a foot injury. Stanley was clearly rusty after missing four games, and he's made drastic improvement since that game. Stanley has played lights out the last few weeks while protecting Flacco's blindside – he hasn't allowed a sack or quarterback hit since facing Harrison – and he gets a shot at redemption this week.

Big Plays From Campanaro

Wide receiver and returner Michael Campanaro returned to the lineup last week after overcoming a training camp calf injury, being temporarily released from the team, and then spending a month on the practice squad. He broke a 39-yard run in his 2016 debut, and also made good decisions in the return game. Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said that Mornhinweg had "a couple things schemed up" for Campanaro, so maybe the Ravens break those out against the Steelers. Campanaro scored a touchdown on a reverse the last time the Ravens played in Pittsburgh, and he could be an X-factor in this week's game.

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