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Monday, November 29, 2010

Week 13 NFL Predictions: Prime Time Edition

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens: BAL -3
This is a game that I've been keeping an eye on all week.  I wanted to see how Ben did in practice and if his limp is any indication, he's not doing as well as PIT would like.  This game was also briefly taken off the board yesterday as rumors surfaced that his foot might in fact be broken.  Well that rumor turned out to be true and false. Apparently he already broke his foot years ago and he merely reaggravated the injury.  Either way he'll be in the lineup on Sunday night, but he might not be as elusive as he normally is.

This could be a big problem because BAL have a nice advantage rushing against that offensive line.  I can't count how many times a designed PIT play breaks down only to see Ben make something out of nothing.  If Ben isn't able to have that same escapability then PIT is going to be in a world of hurt.  Wallace will need to use every ounce of his 4.2 speed to make sure he's open.  Mendenhall has been good this year, but BAL should matchup equally on the ground.  PIT do have an edge in a few categories however.  They are among the top in red zone defense, turnover differential, and stopping the run.  These alone will make this a knock-out drag em out game.

Unfortunately for PIT this is their second road game in a row and must contend with a BAL team that is going to make it very difficult to come away with a win.  BAL have the edge in the passing game, special teams, and rushing the passer.  This means PIT will need to sustain long drives and come away with touchdowns to win.  Not great news when they are below average in this category and Billy Cundiff leads the league in touchbacks with 31.  PIT also rank in the middle of the pack in time of possession which is surprising given how good they are at stopping the run.  Even with Ben's return there hasn't been a huge spike in the offensive categories.   I don't think it all adds up to a huge advantage for BAL in this game, but it's enough for me to roll with them.  Prediction: Bank BAL -3.
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