Ravens at Steelers -- Week 11
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pa. (grass, outdoors)
When: Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Spread: Steelers by 3.5
Forecast: Temperatures are expected to be in the low 40s at kickoff and fall into the 30s during the game. Little wind is expected.
Records: Ravens (Overall: 7-2, AFC North 3-0); Steelers (Overall: 6-3, AFC North: 1-0)
Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Nov. 6, 2011: Ravens 23, Steelers 20; Sept. 11, 2011: Ravens 35, Steelers 7. Series record: The Steelers hold an 18-14 regular season record and a 3-0 advantage in the playoffs. However, the Ravens have won four of the past six regular-season meetings.
What matters: The Ravens are catching a break not having to play against QB Ben Roethlisberger this week. Roethlisberger's ability to extend plays with his feet has given the Ravens' defense fits over the years. Baltimore will instead have to prepare for backup Byron Leftwich, who has one of the stronger arms in the NFL, though he's prone to mistakes and is as immobile as they come. If Baltimore's front seven can generate any kind of pressure on Leftwich, the Ravens should be in good position when the fourth quarter rolls around.
Who matters: Though Leftwich hasn't started a game since 2009, he still has some speedy receivers in Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders, and potentially Antonio Brown (ankle) if he can play, though that's not likely. The Ravens need cornerbacks Corey Graham and Chykie Brown to step up for the fallen Jimmy Smith (sports hernia surgery), who's out indefinitely. If Baltimore's secondary can force Leftwich to hold the ball in the pocket, then its defensive front will have some chances to rattle the 32-year-old veteran.
Key matchups: Baltimore's OL vs. Pittsburgh's front seven. The Steelers were surprisingly easy to run on for Kansas City this past Monday, with the Chiefs accounting for 142 rushing yards and a touchdown. Look for this game to be a throwback of sorts, with Ravens RBs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce getting plenty of carries to try and wear Pittsburgh down. If Baltimore's offensive line can win the battle up front, then it could dictate how this game goes. ... Leftwich vs. Ravens S Ed Reed. In the past, Leftwich has taken his share of shots down the middle of the field. Reed, who's dealing with a plethora of injuries, still is one of the best football minds against the pass. If Reed can force Leftwich into some turnovers early, then momentum could quickly turn in Baltimore's favor.
Injuries of note: CB Smith will not play due to his aforementioned sports hernia surgery. DT Haloti Ngata has practiced all week and will be expected to play after sitting out during last week's game against Oakland. DE Pernell McPhee (thigh/knee) and NT Terrence Cody (arm) will be the most questionable for Sunday.
Inside stuff: A week ago, the Ravens opened up the offense and attacked the Raiders all game long. Look for a more conservative approach this week going against the No. 1 ranked defense on the road. Baltimore's success will depend on how Rice and Pierce perform.
Connections: Steelers LB James Harrison spent time on Baltimore's practice squad early in his career. He also played under Ravens DC Dean Pees in college, when Pees was the head coach at Kent State. ... Ravens LT Michael Oher and Steelers WR Wallace played college football together at Ole Miss from 2005-2008.
Stats you should know: Despite the yards allowed, the Ravens defense has came up with seven turnovers (five interceptions and two fumble recoveries) on third downs. This ties for second most in the NFL. ... Baltimore's defense ranks first in red-zone defense, allowing just 13 touchdowns inside the 20-yard line in 36 possessions.
Looking ahead: After Sunday night's game against Pittsburgh, the Ravens will travel to San Diego before hosting the Steelers.
Prediction: Ravens 16, Steelers 13
Follow Ravens reporter Jason Butt on Twitter @CBSRavens and @JasonButtCBS.