This season has been polar opposites for these two teams. Although both of them have lost star players to injury, none have done more so than the Ravens; losing Quarterback Joe Flacco, Wide receiver Steve Smith, and Running Back Justin Forsett to name a few. The Steelers; although losing star RB LeVeon Bell, have been on fire offensively since the return of Ben Roethlisberger; they’re currently ranked 5th in the NFL in passing, 12th in Rushing, and 2nd in average yards per game. I’m so glad I get to write this one, I’m a massive Steelers fan, and they’ve been on fire throughout the second half of the season. Ben Roethlisberger has completed 66% of his passes on the season for 18 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions. The defense has been impeccable against the run game so far, allowing only 3.8 yards per carry for an average of 89.4 yards per game; 5th in the NFL. Conversely they’ve been shocking against the past, ranking 31st in the entire NFL against the pass, however have managed to get 15 interceptions for 2 TDs whilst ranking so poorly. This has been the season of the injured player for the Ravens, who’ve lost a player at almost all positions apart from Kicker and Punter to Injured reserve. This includes a list of star players; Joe Flacco, Steve Smith Sr, Justin Forsett, Matt Elam, Breshad Perriman and Terrell Suggs. This has lead them to going 4-10 so far this season, and in the running for the 1st pick in the NFL draft.
Three keys to the game:
1. Will the Steelers passing offense continue to thrive?
Over the past 7 games, the Steelers have been impeccable through the air; with Big Ben passing for over 250 yards in each outing. This has lead to himself and Antonio Brown both being selected for Pro Bowl honours, and driven the Steelers to a 5-2 record since Roethlisberger’s return from injury
2. How will the play of Ryan Mallett affect the outcome of this game?
Ryan Mallett will be the 4th QB under center for the Ravens this season alone. The inconsistency under center since Joe Flacco was lost for the season in Week 11, I believe has fuelled the lack of success the Ravens are currently experiencing. Will Ryan Mallett be able to turn it around and play well against the ‘Steel Curtain’? I doubt it, but we’ll see come 1pm ET.
3. How will the heated rivalry affect the teams?
Both franchises openly loathe each other, but this game has been treated as somewhat as an afterthought. The Ravens aren’t competitive, while the Steelers aren’t quite as stellar as years previous. You can be assured that both teams will want the win, but is the rivalry declining at long last?
Match-up to watch: The Steelers receivers vs the Ravens secondary
As mentioned earlier, the Steelers have been shredding opponents’ defensive backfield throughout the middle of this season. I believe this should be another career day for Brown, Bryant, Wheaton and Miller, and the high-tempo, no-huddle attack the Steelers have implemented in 2015, and we should get to see a high flying attack that is in peak condition in Baltimore today.
My Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers
If the Steelers win this game they are guaranteed 2nd Place in the division, as they currently hold a 2-2 record within the division. The Ravens will then drop to 2-3 and the last divisional match up for the Steelers will be against the Browns in week 17 to hopefully put them 4-2 in the division with the Browns at 1-5. This week is all about business for the Steelers. Win today in Baltimore; continue to steam towards that 6th Seed in the playoffs. However with predicting the game I’m gonna have to go with history on this one; the Steelers-Ravens rivalry games normally come to within a score, so I’m going to pick the Steelers to win, but the margin will be small.