Steelers in Batch of Trouble
Starting veteran quarterback Charlie Batch didn't slow down the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. Maybe a visit from the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4 will?
The Steelers hit 3-0 last week by hammering Tampa Bay 38-13. Batch made his fist start since 2007 due to injuries to Dennis Dixon and Byron Leftwich and feasted on an inexperienced Buccaneers secondary for 186 yards passing with three touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.
Batch will get the start again on Sunday, but likely won't have as easy a time against a Ravens defense that is No. 1 against the pass in the NFL.
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Even if Batch doesn't repeat last week's performance the Steelers aren't dead in the water. Pittsburgh's defense has been more of a factor in their 3-0 start than the offense after leading the league in scoring defense the first three weeks. Pittsburgh also has running back Rashard Mendenhall, who has rushed for 332 yards while averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
The Ravens may be finally getting their offense in order after a slow start to the season. Baltimore scored only 20 points in their first two games, but finally broke out last week in a 24-17 win over Cleveland. Joe Flacco, who threw one TD and five interceptions in the first two weeks, connected with Anquan Boldin on three touchdowns and more importantly went without an interception.
Flacco will need to be on his game again this weekend, especially if Ray Rice is sidelined. The Ravens' speedy back suffered a bruised knee last Sunday and was limited in practice this week.
Pittsburgh is a slim 1.5-point favorite while the total was set at a Week 4 low of 34.5. The Steelers have won four of their last five versus the Ravens and they've been even better against Baltimore at Heinz Field with a four-game winning streak and nine wins in their last 10.
The Ravens aren't the only team with a high-profile star on the injury list this weekend. A number of playmakers could end up watching from the sidelines on Sunday. Here's a rundown of five to make sure you get the latest update on before Sunday's kickoff.
Detroit at Green Bay (-14.5) – The Lions are already missing starting QB Matt Stafford and they may head to Green Bay this weekend without rookie running back Jahvid Best, who's questionable with an injured toe.
Houston at Oakland (+3) – Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson is still hobbled by a bad ankle. He toughed it out last week against Dallas only to aggravate the injury. He'll likely be a game-time decision on Sunday.
Carolina at New Orleans (-13.5) – The Saints have two big injury concerns this week with Drew Brees and Pierre Thomas. Brees is nursing an injured knee which could limit his mobility this week. Thomas may not even play due to a knee injury, leaving Ladell Betts as the starting back in his wake.
Seattle at St. Louis (+1) – Fresh off their first win of the season the Rams are preparing for Week 4 without running back Steven Jackson. He's listed as doubtful with a groin injury.
Arizona at San Diego (-8) – Both sides are facing injury questions in this game. The Cardinals were already missing Early Doucet and now Steve Breaston is out indefinitely with an injured knee. That leaves Larry Fitzgerald and not much else in the receiving department. The Chargers are hopeful Ryan Mathews can return after missing last week with a sprained ankle.