NFL 2017 Week 4 Pitttsbirgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens Preview and Prediction

Two teams coming off their first losses of the season meet in an AFC North battle.

The Steelers come-from-behind effort fell short in an overtime loss on the road at Chicago, dropping their record to 2-1. Pittsburgh was behind 17-7 at halftime but tied the game in the fourth quarter on a Le’Veon Bell touchdown run. But overtime wasn’t kind to Pittsburgh, as Jordan Howard rumbled 19 yards for the winning score. That was a microcosm of what ailed the Steelers all game long, as they allowed the Bears to rush for 212 yards and control the clock for six minutes longer than Pittsburgh had the ball.

Baltimore had a game to forget in a 44-7 drubbing at the hands of Jacksonville in an early Sunday game in London, which puts them at 2-1. The Ravens were manhandled in just about every facet of the game. The ugliest numbers were reserved for the Baltimore passing game, which managed a putrid 52 yards. Joe Flacco threw for just 28 yards before he was replaced. The Ravens also allowed four touchdown passes to Blake Bortles and turned the ball over three times without forcing one from the Jaguars.

Road blues

The Steelers are 2-1 to start the season, but their two road performances to start the season have been lackluster. In the season opener, they barely slipped by the Browns, who now stand at 0-3. And last week they let the Bears run all over them. The problems on the road are nothing new for Pittsburgh. Just check out Ben Roethlisberger’s home/road splits the past few seasons for evidence of this. Baltimore’s stout defense won’t exactly be welcoming.

Offense off kilter

Most people expected the Steelers to be one of the finest offenses in the league this season. After all, they had achieved that lofty status the past few seasons, and they entered the year with all their main weapons healthy and active for the first time in ages. Yet the results have been decidedly mediocre. Roethlisberger is having a hard time getting anyone but Antonio Brown untracked, and Le’Veon Bell is still trying to find running lanes. Baltimore is not a good place to have to work out the kinks.

Write it off

Sometimes things go so spectacularly wrong so quickly in an NFL game that it’s hard to even judge the losing team. Maybe the Ravens awful face-plant in London qualifies as one of those times. In truth, the offense had been just passable through the first two games that they won, so when the defense caved last week, the Ravens had no recourse. Somehow Joe Flacco and the passing game must get going against what’s been a solid pass defense so far.

Ravens Ts Ronnie Stanley and Austin Howard vs Steelers OLB’s T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree

Rookie Watt missed last week with a groin injury, and Pittsburgh missed his playmaking presence. He and Dupree generate much of the pass rush for the Steelers, putting the onus on Stanley and Howard to stop two guys who are smaller but much quicker. The Ravens offensive line is patched together due to injuries, but these two guys are dependable and need to keep Flacco clean.

Fantasy football tip – Steelers WR Eli Rogers

It’s hard to get too excited about a guy who didn’t make a catch a week ago. But Roethlisberger needs to find other options outside of Brown, who will be the focus of the Baltimore defense. And the Ravens don’t give up too many plays, which will work against Martavis Bryant. Rogers just might the only choice he has on some passing downs.

Betting tip – Steelers (-3)

The Steelers are giving three on the road. They might win the game, but it could come by a field goal only. Can you say push?

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 17-14 Baltimore Ravens

This might be the game where Bell finally gets on-track, which could make the difference in what should be a defensive slugfest.

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