1. Embrace their underdog status. Heading into tonight's game against the
defending AFC North champion Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2), the Baltimore Ravens
(2-4) are fighting for their season. Plus, players and coaches are battling for
job security. Installed as a 10-point underdog with former NFL Defensive Players
of the Year Ray Lewis and Ed Reed out with injuries, the Ravens have the worst
scoring offense in the league, a stalled running game and an offensive line that
has aged seemingly overnight. The Steelers have no such troubles. They also
haven't lost to the Ravens in Pittsburgh since 2001 when Randall Cunningham was
filling in for Baltimore. They're 7-3 all-time at home against Baltimore. The
Ravens haven't won a road game in their last six tries, and the Steelers are
10-0 under coach Bill Cowher in Monday night games in Pittsburgh. There's one
key anomaly to this history: The Steelers are 1-2 at home at Heinz Field this
season. As outside linebacker Terrell Suggs alluded to, this will either be the
Ravens' finest hour in a concerted effort to topple the heavily-favored Steelers
or they'll be exposed on national television as an underachieving team in
disarray that was expected to be a playoff contender.
2. Score some points. The Ravens rank last in scoring (69 points) and are the only team in the NFL that has failed to score 20 points. Solving this quandary will likely require the elements of an effective running game, a more daring approach through the air and pass blocking prowess that may not be present on this roster. It's a tall order for this scoring-challenged outfit.
3. Tackle and pursue crisply. The Ravens have to respect the outside run with Willie Parker along with Jerome Bettis' bashing style. Either back could be problematic for a defense lacking Lewis, Reed and defensive end Tony Weaver. The Steelers have rushed for 135 yards or more in three of their four wins.
4. Generate turnovers and protect the football. The Ravens are tied for 26th in the NFL in turnover margin with a minus-7 ratio. They've thrown eight interceptions, lost five fumbles and intercepted only three passes and recovered three fumbles.
5. Capitalize in the red zone. Baltimore is tied for 27th in red-zone scoring with a 37.5 touchdown percentage. They've been inside the 20-yard-line 16 times and have only six touchdowns with five field goals.
In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.
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