Salisbury: Ravens in tough against the Steelers


Every Monday, ESPN football analyst Sean Salisbury provides his picks and keys to the game for ESPN PlayCaller. Want to put Sean's advice to work? Think you know better? Join now and let's see what you've got.


Quarterback with most passing yards: Ben Roethlisberger
Steve McNair is just coming off injury and I don't like the Ravens' offense at this point. It is not in any rhythm that will get McNair good passing numbers. Roethlisberger will not throw for a lot of yards but he will be steady and get the job done.

Quarterback with most touchdown passes: Ben Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger has been really good in the red zone this year and with Hines Ward and Heath Miller, he has plenty of weapons and an offense that's getting healthy Also, and as important, the starting corners for the Ravens are out with injury.

Running back with most yards: Willie Parker
Parker has been one of the best backs in the league this year. He has been fabulous all season long and it won't change tonight. Although the Ravens are good on defense, I just don't think the intimidation factor is there any longer.

Running back with most touchdowns: Willie Parker
In the red zone, the Steelers will pound you and hit you in the mouth. I look for Parker to get in the end zone a couple of times.

Most field goals: Matt Stover
The Ravens will break down in the red zone and have more field goal opportunities. Stover is a very good kicker, very consistent.

Which team will score the first touchdown: Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers will be the first in the red zone and come out with a punch-it-in touchdown by Willie Parker, or maybe it will be a long run on a failed blitz. Either way, expect a fast start for the Steelers.

Which player will score the first touchdown? Willie Parker
The man who'll punch it in? Willie Parker.

Keys to the game for the Ravens

  1. Run it with Willis

    Willis McGahee must run the football and get lots of touches for the Baltimore Ravens. This will keep the ball out of Roethlisberger's hands and the Steelers' offense on the sidelines.

  2. McNair must make some big plays
    He has been banged up but Steve McNair must look like the Titans McNair of old if the Ravens are going to get it done on Monday night.

  3. Tackle
    The Ravens must tackle on punts, across the middle and at the line. They have a great defense but the Steelers have big playmakers who can be elusive. If the Ravens can wrap up, tackle and contain, they might have a shot.

Keys to the game for the Steelers

  1. Protect the quarterback
    They will get lots of different looks from the Ravens' defense, but if the offensive line protects Roethlisberger and allows the offense to get into its rhythm, the Steelers will be successful.

  2. Make it a high-scoring game
    The Ravens don't score much. If the Steelers can push over 20 points they will win.

  3. The D must step up
    The Steelers' defense needs to step up with lots of different looks. Throw confusion at the Ravens while on defense and it will lead to turnovers and sacks. One touchdown on defense and the Steelers will win.

The Steelers will win the game by a convincing margin. The only shot the Ravens have is if someone steps up and does something special.

Sean Salisbury is an NFL analyst for ESPN