Plenty of big names on both sides of the ball are inactive for this game. Lets start with the Steelers who made a pretty shocking move today. RB Rashard Mendenhall is not active for today’s game despite being held off the injury report. I said earlier this week that Mendenhall’s demotion to third string was likely symbolic more than anything. I was wrong, at least for this week. In one of the biggest games of the year for Pittsburgh they are sitting their most experienced running back. With little passing game to speak of with Charlie Batch under center that speaks volumes to Mendenhall’s current status in Pittsburgh. Look for a lot of Dwyer and Redman which I think is better for Pittsburgh anyways.
No last minute surprise from Pittsburgh regarding Ben Roethlisberger who was declared inactive, as expected. Also confirmed was Antonio Brown and Troy Polamalu who will both be back for the Steelers in this one.
For the Ravens, some bad news, but not necessarily surprising news, as Danell Ellerbe and Ed Dickson are both out. Ellerbe’s loss really stings with Ray Lewis still out. He has been playing very well up the middle so he won’t be easy to replace. Brendan Ayenbadejo figures to see some extended playing time, and possibly Josh Bynes as well. Dickson won’t be missed too much considering he has been a small part of the offense this year. The bigger news to me is that Pernell McPhee is not listed on this report. Suggs and Kruger will be the focal points, but to throw in McPhee and Upshaw into the mix could wreck havoc for Batch’s day.
Baltimore is about 9 point favorites with about an hour before kickoff. I see that spread is a bit too high. Even with Batch under center, this team has an elite defense that played extremely well against the Ravens in their first meeting. I think Baltimore should win this game and will win this game, but I expect another hard fought battle that isn’t decided to near the very end. A comfortable win would be great, but don’t get your hopes up.