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AP Pro32 comments about Steelers

AP Pro32 comments about Steelers

NEW YORK (AP) Comments on the Pittsburgh Steelers by the AP Pro32 panel (ranking in parentheses):

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PITTSBURGH STEELERS (9)

Chris Berman (ESPN, 9) - Need Ben for Baltimore games.

Clifton Brown (Sporting News, 8) - Big Ben's injury is a big concern. They can only go so far without him.

Cris Collinsworth (NBC Sports, 9)

Rich Gannon (CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio, 9) - May drop quickly if Roethlisberger is out for an extended period of time.

Bob Glauber (Newsday, 10) - Steelers barely hold off 1-8 Chiefs at home, but not before losing Ben Roethlisberger to a shoulder injury. The timing couldn't be worse: Steelers face Ravens twice in next three weeks.

Rick Gosselin (Dallas Morning News, 9) - This was the worst weekend of the NFL season for quarterbacks with four of them knocked from games with injuries: Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers, Jay Cutler of the Bears, Alex Smith of the 49ers and Michael Vick of the Eagles.

Clark Judge (CBSSports.com, 9) - Of all the injuries suffered by quarterbacks last weekend, it's Ben Roethlisberger's shoulder that worries me most.

Ira Kaufman (Tampa Tribune, 5) - Don't let Monday night's lapse against KC fool you - they'll be ready for the Ravens.

Pat Kirwan (SiriusXM NFL Radio/CBSSports.com, 7) - An ugly win over Kansas City is OK, but the loss of Roethlisberger would be a real problem. They overcame his four-game suspension once going 3-1 but I doubt they could do it again.

John Lynch (Fox Sports, 9) - It certainly wasn't pretty beating the Chiefs in OT. What might be even more ugly is the thought of playing without QB Ben Roethlisberger, who was injured and may miss some time.

Alex Marvez (Foxsports.com, 8) - The Steelers are in trouble if Ben Roethlisberger is forced to miss extensive time after injuring his shoulder Monday night against Kansas City.

Dan Pompei (Chicago Tribune, 9) - They beat the Chiefs without Big Ben, but the Steelers need their quarterback healthy to win down the stretch.

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Ravens' Steve Smith answers backhanded compliment like the legend he is

Ravens' Steve Smith answers backhanded compliment like the legend he is

Custom cleats are taking over the NFL, and this Sunday, players will have a chance to wear them during the games. The league will allow players to customize cleats with designs that represent causes they care about. 

Ravens receiver Steve Smith has been outspoken about putting an end to domestic violence, so he plans to use his cleats as a platform for that message this weekend. 

The shiny gold shoes drew a lot of praise on Twitter, but one user decided to weigh in with a backhanded compliment. And as you'd expect, it was a mistake. 

For the uninitiated, there is a reason Smith warns people in his Twitter bio, "If you come @ me, it definitely won't end in your favor." Just ask Anthony Brown and Jalen Ramsey

MORE RAVENS: Five factors to predict Dolphins at Ravens

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Five factors to predict Dolphins at Ravens this Sunday

Five factors to predict Dolphins at Ravens this Sunday

What: Dolphins (7-4) at Ravens (6-5)

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Where: M&T Bank Stadium

Ravens injuries:

OUT – TE Crockett Gillmore (thigh), G Alex Lewis (ankle), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh).

DOUBTFUL – RB Buck Allen (non-football issue).

QUESTIONABLE – WR Kamar Aiken (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (ankle).

Dolphins injuries:

OUT – C Maurkice Pouncey (hip).

DOUBTFUL – CB Xavien Howard (knee).

QUESTIONABLE – OT Branden Albert (wrist), LB Kiko Alonso (hamstring), G Jermon Bushrod (calf), RB Kenyen Drake (knee); LB Jelani Jenkins (knee/hand); DT Earl Mitchell (back); WR DeVante Parker (back); G/T Laremy Tunsil (shoulder).

Five questions you should ask:

1. Are the Dolphins ready to win a big road game in December?

Despite their six-game winning streak, the Dolphins are just 2-3 away from home. Now you’re asking them to win at M&T Bank Stadium, where the Dolphins are 0-2 all-time? We’ll see. The Dolphins will gain credibility as an AFC playoff threat if they win this game.

2. Can the Ravens put together a complete offensive performance?

Quarterback Joe Flacco wasn’t satisfied with the Ravens’ 19-14 win over the Bengals in Week 12. Actually, he hasn’t been satisfied with the offense all season.

“When you have a team 16-3, you would like to choke them out and get it over with,” Flacco said.

He knows the Ravens have to play better offensively to go on a December run. And part of that improvement starts with Flacco.

3. Can the Ravens’ offensive line handle Cameron Wake (8½ sacks) and Ndamukong Suh (five sacks)?

The Dolphins’ defensive line has the ability to make Flacco’s day miserable. The Ravens’ offensive line will need one of its better performances.

4. Which team’s running game will be most effective?

This could be the key to victory, because both teams want to run and utilize play-action passing. Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (847 yards, 5.3 yards per carry) is a load, but the Ravens have the NFL’s top-ranked run defense. Ravens rookie running back Kenneth Dixon is coming off his best game (13 carries, 49 yards), and looks ready to share more carries with Terrance West (600 yards).

5. Can the Ravens get enough pressure on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill?

Tannehill has nine touchdown passes and just one interception during the Dolphins’ six-game winning streak. The Dolphins like to get Tannehill outside the pocket and take advantage of his ability to throw accurately on the move. Tannehill’s game has grown under new head coach Adam Gase. If the Ravens don’t throw Tannehill off his rhythm, he will make plays.

Prediction: Expect a typical close Ravens game, but I see them squeezing out a critical victory, on the strength of Justin Tucker’s leg.

Ravens 20, Dolphins 17 

MORE RAVENS: How Ravens could still win AFC North