Can the Ravens knock off the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers and put their claim on first place in the AFC North? RSR staff predict Sunday’s outcome…
* Ravens run the ball effectively and possess the ball for 35 minutes.
* Terrance West clips the century mark in rushing yards.
* Kenneth Dixon is a factor with 60+ yards from scrimmage.
* Dennis Pitta leads all receivers with 8 catches.
* Steelers limit Mike Wallace to 3 catches for less than 30 yards.
* Ravens are torched on a reverse for a touchdown by Sammie Coates.
* Ravens lose turnover battle 2-1 when Joe Flacco forces passes into the Steelers zone.
* Terrible Towels total 15,000+.
The Megan Fox
* Ravens claim control of the AFC North with a 21-17 victory.
Predicting the Ravens-Steelers match-ups is never an easy thing, particularly ones that decides first place in the division. The bye week gave the Ravens a chance to rest up and get some injured guys back along the offensive line, which is desperately needed.
The Ravens manage to keep it close with Joe Flacco throwing two touchdowns (both to Mike Wallace) while Terrence West records his 4th rushing TD of the season. Justin Tucker remains perfect in field goal attempts.
On defense, Jimmy Smith manages to contain Antonio Brown for three and a half quarters before he breaks free for a late Pittsburgh score. Le’Veon Bell gives the run defense it’s biggest test of the season and they allow him to find the end zone twice. Terrell Suggs nabs two sacks bumping his total to 18.5 all-time on Roethlisberger.
Steelers 30, Ravens 27
I don’t know guys…does a bye week really heal all wounds? Does it fix all problems? Does having an extra week to study film really lend to a change in offensive & defensive philosophies and effectiveness? Does a week off lend to Flacco suddenly stepping into throws again? Will the team remember how to play without holding or jumping offsides? Did John Harbaugh figure out during the break that taking the points is the right answer 99% of the time?
I’m just not buying in until I see changes on the field.
The Ravens face their toughest test of the season in the Steelers offense (Ben will play, no doubt), and while the Steelers defense leaves much to be desired (12th in PPG, 26th pass, 21st run), the Ravens have struggled mustering any points against cellar dweller defenses thus far. How can I expect they’ll do much against a decent defense this week?
The way I see it, Ravens go up 10-0 once again, but Pittsburgh pulls back in the 3rd quarter with 17 points to take 17-10 lead. The Ravens will tie it up late in the 4th, but the Steelers will march down for a Le’Veon Bell game-winning TD, while the Ravens fail to drive in the 2-minute drill to end the game.
Flacco goes for 300 but throws 40+ times again and gets picked off twice, while the running game gets stifled early and ends up on the side of a milk carton again. Eric Weddle picks off Ben, Jimmy Smith does a great job covering Antonio Brown, but ultimately the defense gets shredded for 150+ rushing yards and 2 rush TD’s (1 from Ben, 1 from Bell).
I’m still not convinced Fat Ben plays, despite what the towel-waving Yinzer/National media wants us to believe. And if he does, hopefully he can’t move around like usual. Not only do I not want to see him on that field because it would greatly help the Ravens’ chances, but to spare us having to hear about how TUFFFFFF is he all day from the broadcast crew.
If somehow #7 does get on the field? Ugh. Then I think we’re treated to yet another gut-wrenching defeat.
Vs. Landry Jones: Ravens 24 Yinzers 13
Vs. Can-Barely-Fit-His-Fat-Head-In-His-Helmet: Jerks 24 Ravens 20
The bye week definitely did the Ravens a lot of good. They’ll be getting a handful of key contributors back and it looks like their entire offensive line will play together for the first time since Week 3. But even with a mostly healthy unit the Ravens aren’t good enough to beat one of the better teams in the AFC.
It looks like Roethlisberger is trending towards playing but even if Landry Jones is under center the Ravens will still lose this game. Jones threw for almost 300 yards against a pretty good Patriots defense two weeks ago.
If Roethlisberger plays: 30-20 Steelers.
If he doesn’t: 24-20 Steelers.
Baltimore has beaten Pittsburgh in 5 of the last 6 meetings of the two teams. Even if Ben Roethlisberger plays, Baltimore should keep it close. That’s just how these games go.
In 44 meetings, the average margin of victory is 0.8 points in favor of the Steelers (20-19.2). With Baltimore being at home, and all its key players getting crucial rest, I give the Ravens a very slim advantage. The X-factor should be the Ravens run defense. If they can force an injured Big Ben into 3rd-and-long situations, that’s good news for the purple and black.
Ravens 21, Steelers 20.
I’d like to say that I see the Ravens taking this one, but I really just can’t.
The best shot they have is to control the run game and make Roethlisberger throw the ball. The Ravens do have a stout run defense, but Bell is arguably the best back in the league, so that’s a tall order. If they can, then the key to controlling the passing game is getting tons of pressure on Roethlisberger. With him coming back so soon from knee surgery, he’s not going to be able to extend plays like he normally does so getting to him quickly is the key. Unfortunately, I’m not sure we have the personnel or coaching to be able to get that done.
And, then there’s the offense – God only knows what to expect there. They should be better this week with better health, but who knows?!?!?
The Ravens have won the last two games in this series and four of the last five. It doesn’t matter where the game is or who is on the field, these games are almost always close. Seven of the last 10 games between the two have been decided by one score or less.
This year, the Steelers won four of their first five games and averaged 34 points a game during that span. But since then, they have lost two in a row, both without their star QB, and their defense is not living up to their normal standard.
Overall, the Steelers are 8th in offensive yards per game, while the Ravens are 6th in yards per game defensively. Baltimore is 18th in offensive yards per game, while Pittsburgh is 26th defensively in yards given up per game.
For as poorly as the Ravens have played this season, when you look at the stats, they aren’t that bad. So, if they can get their key guys healthy enough to play and not commit so many penalties, they Ravens have a real shot to not only win this game, but also take over 1st place in the AFC North and keep it for the next few weeks.
But with that said, I have predicted a Ravens win every week so far, and that hasn’t worked out well. So…
Steelers win 24-21.
Mike Wallace burns his old squad for a 60-yard touchdown. Flacco throws for 350 behind a healthier offensive line. Young Ravens like Za’Darius Smith and Matt Judon get to Big Ben and exacerbate his injury.
But it’s not enough. Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are too good to be kept quiet for very long, and the Ravens lose in a shootout 35-28.