Ravens - Steelers: Gameday inside slant

Week 8 in the NFL sees the Ravens (2-4) on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2). We take a quick look at what to look for on each side of the football and what each team needs to do to win.

When the Ravens have the football

Expect offensive coordinator Jim Fassel to at least deviate slightly from an ultra-conservative approach. Why not try something new at this point with the Ravens ranked last in scoring offense (11.5 average)? They only generated 199 yards of total offense in last week's 10-6 loss to the Bears. This could mean more of tight end Todd Heap split out wide, increased throws to Randy Hymes and perhaps a smidgen of playing time for lightly-used $3 million backup runner Chester Taylor. Jamal Lewis to the left, Jamal Lewis to the right and Jamal Lewis up the middle has gotten pretty stale.

Key matchup

TE Todd Heap vs. S Troy Polamalu

Two athletic Pro Bowl selections should clash multiple times, and Heap's speed could keep Polamalu honest in coverage.

How the Ravens can win

1. Try a fresh approach. The running game is usually unproductive with starter Jamal Lewis. It may be time to increase Chester Taylor's workload, and allow Anthony Wright to stretch the field vertically.

2. Contain Willie Parker and Jerome Bettis. The Steelers' lightning-and-thunder running combo is formidable, and Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are hurt.

3. Watch out for play-action. Ben Roethlisberger is deadly on this pass, especially to rookie tight end Heath Miller. Terrell Suggs can't be overly aggressive.

When the Steelers have the football

Anticipate them trying to run the Ravens out of Heinz Field with a mixture of sweeps for Fast Willie Parker and dives and zone runs for Bruising Jerome Bettis. Although the Steelers rarely throw the football -- they attempted only 14 passes in last week's impressive win over Cincinnati -- they're very efficient. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger leads the NFL with a 120.7 passer rating. He completed nine of his passes last week for two touchdowns while Carson Palmer threw it 36 times for no touchdowns. Tight end Heath Miller has caught a touchdown pass in each of the last three weeks and is rapidly becoming Roethlisberger's favorite safety valve whenever Hines Ward is covered.

Key matchup

FB Dan Kreider vs. LB Tommy Polley

The 255-pound Kreider thrives on physical collisions, and could have an edge against a 230-pound linebacker who looks more like a basketball player.

How the Steelers can win

1. Run the football right at Tommy Polley. Polley is a light replacement for Ray Lewis, weighing only 230 pounds and has been described as a finesse linebacker. Finesse doesn't usually work against the Steelers.

2. Blitz Anthony Wright. Pass protection broke down against the Bears with four sacks allowed. The Steelers have superior personnel with safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker Joey Porter, and Baltimore is susceptible to line stunts.

3. Throw the post corner route to Hines Ward. He's been a major nemesis to Chris McAlister over the years and already has five touchdowns this season.

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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