Yesterday, in my "Who you got?" entry, I touched on the fact that the Steelers' defense has been surprisingly vulnerable against the pass this season.
Pittsburgh has allowed an average of 240 passing yards per game, which is not what we're used to seeing out of defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's group.
In particular, the Steelers have had trouble when teams have spread them out wide this season, forcing them to bring out five and six defensive backs, and moving safety Troy Polamalu, who excels around the line of scrimmage, into a little more of a traditional deep-safety role.
With four quality wide receivers and a few athletic, pass-catching tight ends on their roster, the Ravens have the personnel to follow the same script that the Saints, Patriots and, to an extent, Bills tossed at Pittsburgh.
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron can go with any number of personnel groupings, and let Joe Flacco air it out 35-plus times, as he did in these two teams' first matchup back in Week 4.
I'm of the mind that if you line Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Todd Heap up on the field at one time and force the defense to cover all four, someone will be open. There's too much talent there for opposing teams to have much consistent success shutting down that veteran foursome.
Now, there is obviously a downside to that strategy. The more you spread yourself out and the fewer tight ends and backs you keep on the line or in the backfield, the more your offensive linemen need to be counted on to win one-on-one battles.
While left tackle Michael Oher (sprained right knee) and right guard Chris Chester (leg infection) are expected to play Sunday night, both are banged up, as is fullback Le'Ron McClain, who is normally a solid pass protector. That might make Cameron more hesitant to run some of the four and five-receiver formations which teams have found to be successful against the Steelers this season.
Cameron knows that James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley will be flying off the edges trying to take Flacco's head off, and he might prefer to leave in a tight end or an extra back to help chip and give Flacco time to settle into the pocket and look downfield.
To me, the question will be: Does Cameron have enough confidence in his battered offensive line and his third-year quarterback to put the game on their shoulders?
If he does, Flacco could be in for a very heavy workload. If not, we might see more of the traditional, balanced approach against this Steelers D.