Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is 2-0 against Ravens QB Joe Flacco in the playoffs since Flacco’s rookie season in 2008.
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For the third time since 2008, the Pittsburgh Steelers will host the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL playoffs – this time in the Wildcard round.
Throughout the 2014 season the Steelers have been far more dominant on the offense than the defense – the team finish outside the top half of the league in points and yards allowed for the first time since 1991. The offense has been one of the best in football and finished 7th in points scored and 2nd in total yards (the second time in history finishing in the top two in yards). The keys to the Steelers great offense has been the record-setting season of QB Ben Roethlisberger (franchise record 4,952 passing yards, 32 TDs, 103.3 passer rating), as well as an All-Pro performance by RB Le’Veon Bell and a record-setting performance by All-Pro WR Antonio Brown, who set franchise records with a league-leading 129 receptions (2nd most in history), 1,698 receiving yards (6th in NFL history), and 13 TDs. The Steelers are also riding a 4-game winning streak and are 6-2 at home this season.
The Ravens were off-and-on as playoff contenders throughout the season, starting 5-2 before dropping two to the Bengals and Steelers. The Ravens were able to just barely sneak into the playoffs with a comeback win over the Cleveland Browns and the Chargers loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. As a team, the Ravens have been about a top 10 unit in just about every phase of the game – 8th in points scored, 6th in points allowed and 8th in yards allowed. QB Joe Flacco has set career highs in yards and TDs, but the key to their success has been the emergence of Justin Forsett as a feature back to replace RB Ray Rice. Forsett finished the season with 1,266 yards and 8 TDs. The Ravens also got a big boost out of rookie ILB C. J. Mosley, who has settled into the unenviable task of replacing legendary LB Ray Lewis’ role very nicely. The Ravens were 4-4 on the road this season and lost 43-23 the last time they faced the Steelers in Heinz Field.
Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers win the Wildcard Round – Even without Le’Veon Bell the Steelers offense is a well-oiled machine with Ben Roethlisberger making plays to Antonio Brown. The defense may not be the dominant force it once was, but it still playing more than well enough to give this top 10 defense a chance to build a lead and stay ahead in the game. And that’s exactly what we can expect this week.