A fierce AFC North rivalry headlines the early slate Sunday with the Steelers and Ravens facing off in a rematch from week 4. The Steelers lead the all time series 27-22, and have won 3 of the last 4, with defeat coming last time they met.
The Steelers defeated the Browns 33-18 this past week. In week 5, the Steelers handled the Falcons 41-17, beat the Bengals 28-21 in week 6, and had a bye in week 7.
The Ravens are coming off a 36-21 loss to the Panthers. In week 6, they blanked the Titans 21-0, and lost 24-23 to the Saints in week 7.
Intertops in Vegas have this game opening at (-3) in favour of the Ravens, with an O/U yet to be posted.
The offense struggled in parts against the Browns, turning the ball over twice and outside of their scoring drives didn’t move the ball well at all. Ben Roethlisberger was 24/36 for 257, 2 TDs, and an INT. He spread the ball around well, and did a nice job of avoiding pressure and making the easy throw. Antonio Brown hauled in 6 catches for 74 yards and 2 TDs, and this is the best the Ben-Brown tandem has looked this season.
Vance McDonald caught 3 balls for 47 yards and James Conner caught 5 balls for 66 yards. Conner also ran 24 times for 146 yards and 2 TDs, putting his scrimmage yards over 200.
Defensively, they made some opportunistic plays and got solid pressure on Baker Mayfield all game. Joe Haden came away with an interception on a nice pick down the field on the sideline, and T.J. Watt and Stephon Tuitt each got home for sacks.
Injuries and Inactive Watch
CB Coty Sensabaugh (foot) – questionable, QB Ben Roethlisberger (finger) – played through. Questionable, OT Marcus Gilbert (knee) – DNP. questionable
The Ravens lost this one bad, and it would have looked worse if not for a garbage time TD throw by Lamar Jackson. Joe Flacco was uninspiring in his 39 attempts, completing 22 for 192 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs. Flacco looked shook all game between a fair amount of pressure and solid coverage from Carolina. He didn’t have a throw go for over 20 yards, and didn’t test the Panthers downfield much at all.
strong>Willie Snead caught 5 balls for 54 yards, Michael Crabtree had 3 catches for 31 yards, and John Brown caught 3 balls for 28 yards as the Ravens receivers were all but obsolete. They got away from the run game, but Alex Collins did rush 11 times for 49 yards and a TD, while Lamar Jackson rushed 3 times for 26 yards.
For the first time this season, the Ravens defense was on it’s heels more than attacking. The Ravens uncharacteristically failed to tally a sack and struggled to get pressure in general. The Panthers multiple offensive looks kept their secondary off balance, but they contained McCaffrey for the most part out of the backfield.
Injuries and Inactive Watch
OT Ronnie Stanley (leg) – questionable, CB Marlon Humphrey (thigh) – DNP. Questionable
9 of the last 14 regular season matchups between these teams have been decided by 4 points or fewer, and the smart money says it will happen again this week. The Steelers appear to be hitting their stride a bit, and their offense looks more settled in than the first few weeks of the season. The Steelers do not have the dynamic offense like the Panthers, and are in no way similar, but their playmakers trump the Panthers. Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster need to show up in a big way against a tough Ravens secondary, and the Steelers need to continue to grind James Conner behind their powerful offensive line. Big Ben also needs to avoid turnovers and be more selective in his targets.
The Ravens cannot have another performance like last week from Joe Flacco, but luckily the Steelers secondary is considerably less talented than Carolinas. The Steelers need to continue to be opportunistic and force the issue up front with their blitz packages. Baltimore cannot hope to win from behind, and needs to control the ball and the clock if they hope to win. We are taking the Steelers to cover on the road, and to continue their hot play.
Final Pick: Steelers (+3)