PURPLE FRIDAY : This is Steelers Week - and yet it feels lackluster. Is there a Super Bowl Hang-Over for Fans too? Or is it because this team is 3-3, has stumbled/fumbled/bumbled their way through the first six games; showing no spark, no imagination and no passion in four quarters of each game. There are problems with the O-Line, vanilla Play-calling and big injuries.

 1. There are 10 games left, so it is hard to identify something as "crucial". The Ravens are one game back of the Bengals and have four Division games left after Sunday. They have 4 Home/3 Away after Pittsburgh, with three straight home games. Still, this is a huge game IMHO. If they go 3-0 in the next three, they move to 6-3 and grab four Division Wins. They smack down the Steelers as a threat; 1-5 would be a tough hole for them. This is really not "just another game" if they intend to be a force in the 2013 season. Grab this game and shake it with a new passion to carry forward into the Bye. John Harbaugh has the football passion. If he intends this to be his team, he needs to kick start it when it matters.
 2. Pittsburgh has more to lose simply because of their position in the Division. It is Home for them and they are coming off a Win. If they can gather momentum, they can straighten out the season. Playing in Pittsburgh is not an easy trip, and the teams have played tight games most of the time. Baltimore has to find that same sense of urgency and desire to win. It will help get the team in the right frame of mind to go there and win against their arch-enemy.
 3. The Defense has to look to keep away from the Big play. Denver and Green Bay had big plays as they sliced through the secondary. Buffalo and Miami also had the long pass attack. Ben is able to extend plays by bouncing out of the pocket and refusing to go down. Rodgers had success in the second half when he was able to avoid the pressure in the pocket. The killer will be the busted play where Ben gets away from a tackle and finds a receiver in the open.
 4. Dick LeBeau is a great defensive mind. He will unleash an assault against the middle of the O-Line to disrupt the pocket and the run. The team has to do roll-outs and screens to try to slow that down. The pressures will come and it is up to the offense to play against that attack.
 5. Historically, this has been a knock-down/drag-out slobber-knocker contest. Last year the Ravens won in Pittsburgh without an Offensive TD; and that could just as easily occur here since both Offenses have failed to show anything this year. Unfortunately, I think a low-scoring punching-fest will favor the Steelers. If this is close, they can find a way to pull the fat out of the fire because it means more to them at this stage of the season.

 This is a high water mark for this team. Does it mean that they fold up and collapse for the rest of the season if they lose? I doubt it. But right now there are enough questions about cracks in the armor that a loss right before the Bye could be a bad wound for the year; not enough to be fatal but enough to cripple the will to survive. 
 Bring on the Fire in the Heart. Let the O-Line blow up the guy in front of them with old school blocking. Put Flacco in the No-Huddle/Sugar-Huddle mode early and strike hot with a mix of slants, crossing patterns, and screens. Bull the Steelers off the line by smash-mouth, punch-in-the-face domination; by adding a mean-streak attitude to the struggle. Mix the run and pass when they are least expected. Bring some "Swag" into Pittsburgh and let them know that their place is at the bottom of the division this year. Get Mean !! Have the defense unleashed on the weak Steeler O-Line to smack Ben around. Blow up the pocket. Act like a True Ravens Defense. Call an Offensive game that allows the talent to shine. Go into the Bye with the mind-set that this team can make the run to the post-season.

 If the team that has shown up so far appears on Sunday, they probably limp out with a loss. If they take command of their fate by creating an identity on Offense they can win - even if it is 23-20. CALL IN THE FIRE OF THE RAVENS !!! PLAY LIKE A RAVEN !!!

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