What's the big key to beating Big Ben and the Steelers?

The Ravens and Steelers won’t be tiptoeing into the water at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon. They are taking the plunge into the season with one of the most critical games on the 2011 slate for each squad.

That’s not to say the season opener is a make-or-break game for either team, though there is more pressure on the Ravens to win and put the pressure back on the Steelers to defend their home turf later in the season.

So what do the Ravens need to do to beat Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers on Sunday?

Based on history, it will probably be a close one, so the Ravens must prevent those momentum-swinging plays the Steelers always seem to produce in crunch time. The reconstructed offensive line has to hold up against James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley (and Troy Polamalu). Unproven cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Cary Williams need to keep Roethlisberger’s wide receivers under wraps. And Joe Flacco has to play better against his nemeses from Pittsburgh.

The Steelers have their concerns, too. The offensive line is again a question mark. Some pigskin pundits think their defense is ancient. And their secondary was exploited in their loss in the Super Bowl.

Your turn: What’s the biggest key to sinking the Steelers? And what’s your score prediction for Sunday’s AFC North showdown?

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