By: Emily Musella
Steelers secure Wednesday afternoon victory over division rival Ravens
Wednesday afternoon football is upon us folks. After the league rescheduled the matchup three times due to COVID-19 outbreaks on the Baltimore Ravens and a few on the Pittsburgh Steelers, these two AFC north rivals are ready for a showdown. The Steelers remain undefeated with a 10-0 record, meanwhile the Ravens came off an OT thriller loss against the Titans. Will the Steelers continue their undefeated status and get the W at home, or will the Ravens spoil their fun and claw out a miraculous W? You know what time it is, the breakdown shakedown!
Odds: PIT -9.5, BAL +9.5
Over/Under: Over 40
Kickoff: December 2nd, 3:40 p.m. EST, Heinz Field
The Ravens officially entered desperation mode after dropping two straight losses to the Patriots and Titans and ultimately falling to a 6-4 record. On top of that, superstar QB Lamar Jackson tested positive for COVID-19. Therefore, Robert Griffin III will be in the game plan for John Harbaugh and Co. The upside for the Baltimore squad is they will officially get the clearance for RB’s Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins to contribute to the dismal offense after completing their COVID-19 isolation period.
Offensively, the Ravens rank 31st in the league for passing yards, and #1 for rushing yards. Though the Ravens will reacquire Ingram and Dobbins, they have not practiced in over ten days whereas Gus Edwards has been involved more directly for the run-game. To add more fuel to the fire, TE Mark Andrews tested positive for COVID-19 and WR Willie Snead IV tested positive for COVID-19 as well. Therefore, QB RG3 will need to up his passing connection with Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Devin Duvernay, and Dez Bryant. Snead IV led the receiving group in the last matchup against the Steelers with 106 yards on just 5 receptions.
Defensively, the Ravens will go up against the MVP conversation QB Ben Roethlisberger. The biggest task will be to stop the Steelers juggernaut wide receiving group of Juju Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and James Washington. In their last matchup, Juju was the lead receiver with 67 yards on 7 receptions, he was recently upgraded to probable despite a toe injury from last week. As for the run-defense, Baltimore was stout against James Conner holding him to under 50 yards on the ground. But Conner will not be the RB in this game after testing positive for COVID-19, therefore, Benny Snell Jr. will be getting the ball in the backfield. Keys to a divisional victory: force turnovers, establish a dominant passing game, and keep Pittsburgh from running the clock on long drives.
The Steelers play Wednesday afternoon football host to their division rival Baltimore Ravens. Pittsburgh will look to continue their undefeated season with a pivotal victory over Baltimore. Last week, the Steelers completely dominated the Jacksonville Jaguars with a 27-3 score. The bad news coming out of Pittsburgh is the COVID-19 positive test that key starters RB James Conner and DE Stephon Tuitt received over the weekend.
Offensively, the Steelers boast an impressive 4th ranking for total score on offense, 14th for passing yards, and 24th for rushing yards. The one key ranking that goes underrated though is the Time on the Field which the Steelers are 4th-best in the league. Constructing long drives and ultimately keeping opposing offenses sidelined has been a Pittsburgh specialty this season. Due to the pandemic decimating the Ravens defense, look for QB Ben Roethlisberger to utilize the aerial attack and rack up over 300 yards in this matchup. With the weaponry of Juju Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, and Eric Ebron, Big Ben can pick and choose where he feels most comfortable throwing on the field. As for the ground-game, Benny Snell Jr. will get the call to start on the ground.
Defensively, the loss of Stephon Tuitt hurts the Steelers D because he already has 7 sacks on the season and plays an average 81% of the time. Look for TJ Watt, Cameron Heyward, and Bud Dupree to step up big time for the missing Tuitt. Also, Henry Mondeaux and rookie Carlos Davis will need to fill in for defensive positions as well. The Steelers defense is known for attacking the quarterback the most in the league. They face a new challenge with RG3 at the helm, but as any fan remembers, RG3 started last season in week 17 and absolutely shredded the Steel D. Look for Mike Tomlin to use some of that tape from last season in regards to the run and play style RG3 will utilize this time around. With Mark Andrews and Willie Snead IV out, the defense will need to shift their focus to Hollywood Brown and Dez Bryant. Not to mention the running capabilities of Ingram, Dobbins, and Edwards who can fly in the backfield and make the front seven D look weak. Keys to success: Create turnovers by forcing RG3 to throw the ball, establish a lead early, and control the clock as much as possible.
ANALYSIS AND PREDICTION
This game was supposed to feature two elite division rivals battling it out for playoff implications on the line. Now, it is a rather lopsided affair with the Ravens losing multiple key starters on both the offense and defense. I do not think the decimated Baltimore squad will be able to stop Big Ben and Co. through the air. I do believe the ground-game for the Steelers will stall, but the passing game will surge with over 300 yards. Turnovers will be key in this game and I see RG3 committing two key ones that will ultimately decide the fate of the team. Chase Claypool will notch a pair of TD’s and the Steelers will leave Heinz Field undefeated. Final Score: Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Baltimore Ravens 20.