The Pittsburgh Steelers have lost five games this season. Four of those to teams that are currently in the playoffs. The New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals and the Seattle Seahawks. The fifth, is basically playing out the string while looking ahead to next season: the Baltimore Ravens.
The 4 and 10 Ravens would love nothing more than to play spoiler to their bitter rival’s playoff hopes, and sweep the season series for the first time since 2011. This Sunday they have their chance to add a silver lining to their abysmal, injury plagued season when the two meet in the “Charm City.”
The first time these two met on October 1st in Pittsburgh, the Steelers were without Ben Roethlisberger while he nursed a right MCL sprain and bone bruise. Mike Vick got the start, and they blew a late 4th quarter lead, thanks to a pair of missed field goals by Josh Scobee, which led to questionable 4th down calls by Coach Mike Tomlin, before losing in overtime 23-20.
This time #7 will be at the helm, and bring the hottest, most lethal offense in the NFL with their franchise record of 6 consecutive games scoring 30+ points to town. During the streak, Pittsburgh has scored 210 points (35 pg), 2,883 total yards (480.5 pg), 2,269 passing yards (378.2 pg), and most importantly a 5-1 win-loss record.
The keys to a Steeler victory are obvious. They average an NFL 2nd best 27 points a game on offense, while gaining 402.9. Baltimore’s D gives up 25.7 points a game, 8th worse in the NFL, and 342.7 yards a game. The blueprint for victory is there.
The one key issue with Pittsburgh is, they still turn the ball over at crucial moments, that’s the only thing that can keep a lowly Ravens team in the game. Baltimore has a league low 4 interceptions and 7 fumble recoveries thus far this season, and are 31st in turnover margin at -15.
On offense the Ravens are without quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Justin Forsett. That’s probably why they’re 28th in 3rd down conversions at 34%, 21st in points per game. But, they are 8th in passing yards at 266 per game. So the Steelers, young, vulnerable, 2nd worse ranked pass D will need to be on alert.
Regardless, this is Steelers versus Ravens, so you might as well throw the records and stats out the window. Baltimore is 8-5 against Pittsburgh since the start of the 2010 season.
On Monday, Vegas had Pittsburgh as 10.5 favorites, with the over-under at 47 points. I’m going with the under, while predicting the Steelers to win 30-10.
Steeler Nation should keep an eye on the (9-5) New York Jets versus the (12-2) New England Patriots and the (3-11) Cleveland Browns hosting the (9-5) Kansas City Chiefs. A Kansas City loss, with a Steeler win would move Pittsburgh to the 5th seed. While a Steeler loss and Jets victory would drop them out of the playoffs with one week to go. If all three win out, Pittsburgh will still get in as the 6th seed.