After breaking down film, Scouts Inc. gives its take on what to watch in the NFL this weekend:
Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday
Baltimore: This pass offense is doing a much better job of attacking the middle of the field. In the past, Joe Flacco liked the throws outside the hashes and he seemed hesitant to come inside where there was more traffic. But now he seems to have two weapons he really prefers in that part of the defense. TE Todd Heap is an excellent target on circle routes and curls, and he is a tough matchup for a linebacker or safety in man coverage. He is adept at finding holes when he sees zones inside. WR Anquan Boldin is very effective on slant routes, especially when defenses blitz from the inside, where he and Flacco can both make the same hot read. This passing game can now attack all areas of the defense.
Pittsburgh: We know how creative this defense is, and it will give Flacco a variety of pre-snap looks to create confusion. In Pittsburgh's win over Baltimore in Week 13, one particular big defensive play stands out. It looked like a four-man rush, but at the last second SS Troy Polamalu stepped up on the right side, the LOLB stepped up on the left side and both guys blitzed off the edge for a six-man rush. ROLB James Harrison lined up next to Polamalu and took a hard inside pass-rush into the OT-OG gap. Baltimore LOT Michael Oher stepped down inside to block Harrison while the back attacked the backside blitzer. That left Polamalu untouched on his way to Flacco with a slightly delayed blitz. It led to a game-changing strip sack. Pass protection from both teams may be the key to this game.