Replenishing the Division Rivals

September 08, 2005|By Brent Jones

Steelers vs. Ravens

Key for Ravens

Win the line of scrimmage. The team that has rushed for more yards has won the past eight games in the series.

Biggest headache

Hines Ward's blocking seems to bother Ravens defensive players, especially cornerback Chris McAlister. Ward also had nine catches combined in the teams' two meetings last season.

Footnote

Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller has one touchdown pass in three career games against the Steelers.

Brian Billick's impression

"Division champs, 15-1, don't need to say any more. Until someone knocks them off, they are that."

Bengals vs. Ravens

Key for Ravens

Tighten the coverage. Bengals receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh combined for 35 catches, 547 yards and three touchdowns in the two meetings last season -- staggering numbers against a secondary that featured three former Pro Bowl players.

Biggest headache

Houshmandzadeh's first touchdown catch and first 100-yard receiving game have come against the Ravens. The defense never seems to have an answer for an otherwise unheralded player.

Footnote

In his last six games of 2004, quarterback Carson Palmer threw for 13 touchdowns, completing 68.6 percent of his passes for an average of 238.2 yards a game.

Brian Billick's impression

"I think they are ready for that next step. ... A lot of people seem to be picking them to be very good this year, a playoff team. I think they are certainly capable of that. It's that pivotal time for them. I think they've got a number of pieces in place to be excellent."

Browns vs. Ravens

Key for Ravens

Pound Jamal Lewis. The Browns rebounded to hold Lewis to 138 yards combined in two games last year after giving up 500 the year before. Expect Lewis to answer back if he gets the touches.

Biggest headache

Kenard Lang registered three sacks in the first meeting last year and generally plays his best ball of the season against the Ravens. Lang, normally a defensive end, has moved to linebacker this year.

Footnote

The Browns haven't scored a first-half offensive touch-down against the Ravens in the past four meetings.

Brian Billick's impression

"Hard to know where Cleveland is right now with all the changes they've gone through, coaching and personnel. We're going to have to wait and see in the regular season before we can really draw any conclusions to where they're at."

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