This is the Steel City Blitz Three-Point Stance. Your quick-hitting reference guide to everything you need to know about the Ravens and Steelers in their week four primetime match-up. It is sponsored by Nail the Number: The Fight Against Cancer.
What: Baltimore Ravens 2-1 at Pittsburgh Steelers 1-1-1
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
When: 820pm Sunday, September 30th, 2018
Weather: 70 degrees and partly cloudy at game time
Line: Steelers -3
Last Week: The Ravens defeated Denver 27-14 in Baltimore while the Steelers hung on to beat the Buccaneers in Tampa 30-27
TV: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya on the sidelines
TV Coverage in Your Area: National TV Audience on NBC
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley on the sidelines.
Head Official: Tony Corrente
Key Injuries/Game Status (courtesy steelers.com) PIT: CB Mike Hilton (Elbow) – Doubtful
S Morgan Burnett (Groin) – Doubtful BAL: CB Anthony Averett (hamstring) – Out, CB Brandon Carr (knee) – Questionable, DT Willie Henry (abdomen) – Out, T Ronnie Stanley (foot) – Questionable, LB Terrell Suggs (knee) – Questionable
TE Hayden Hurst (foot) – Questionable, DB/LB Anthony Levine (hamstring) – Questionable, LB CJ Mosley (knee) – Questionable, DT Michael Pierce (foot) – Questionable
2018 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 2nd, BAL 13th Passing Offense: PIT 2nd, BAL 9th Rushing Offense: PIT 23rd, BAL 26th
Total Defense: PIT 29th, BAL 1st Passing Defense: PIT 28th, BAL 2nd Rushing Defense: PIT 25th, BAL 13th
AFC North Rankings: Cincinnati 2-1, Baltimore 2-1, Cleveland 1-1-1, Pittsburgh 1-1-1
This Week: Cincinnati at Atlanta 1pm, Cleveland at Oakland 405pm
What You Need to Know: On Friday, the Steelers inducted their second class into their Hall of Honor. Alan Faneca, Rocky Bleier, Art Rooney, Jr, Bill Nunn and Buddy Dial are the new members… The Steelers are looking for their fourth straight win in the series and third in a row in Pittsburgh… The Steelers have won nine in a row on Sunday Night… Mike Tomlin is currently 11-11 all-time against the Ravens… Ben Roethlisberger is 9-2 at home vs the Ravens… Big Ben is six TD passes away from tying Fran Tarkenton for seventh all-time.
What’s at Stake: Both teams have one division game under their respective belts. The Ravens lost in Cincinnati while the Steelers tied in Cleveland. Both teams could use a win for divisional purposes, for AFC purposes and most importantly for rivalry purposes.
All-Time Series: Steelers lead 24-20 and lead in Pittsburgh 14-8
Series Highs: PASSING: Steelers Ben Roethlisberger 506 yards 12/10/2017, Ravens Jeff Blake 336 12/29/2002… RUSHING: Steelers Le’Veon Bell 144 yards 10/1/2017, Ravens Justin Forsett 150 yards 10/1/2015… RECEIVING: Steelers Antonio Brown 213 yards 12/10/2017, Ravens Qadry Ismail 258 12/12/1999
Last Meeting: December 10th, 2017 in Pittsburgh. Steelers 39 Ravens 38
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
Win the Red Zone Wars. Right now, the Ravens have the best Red Zone Percentage (TD only) in the NFL. The Steelers rank in the bottom third at stopping Red Zone TDs. So what has to happen to force the Ravens into field goal attempts? It’s going to take solid communication and quality play-calling. Baltimore will use a plethora of tight ends and they have two capable running backs in Alex Collins and Buck Allen. Keith Butler has to get things right in terms of both his personnel and his decision-making. Joe Flacco has had a very solid start to the season and the Steelers will need to take a similar approach that he took last week. He has to be willing to bring pressure and get the relatively immobile Flacco focused more on the rush than on his receivers down-field.
Keep the Balance(s) on Offense. I put that ‘s’ there for a reason. I think the Steelers’ offense could use a little more balance in terms of the run vs the pass but I also think there’s been another type of balance that needs to continue. While Antonio Brown may not be getting the numbers he’s accustomed to he has to understand that the passing game has thrived with Ben Roethlisberger utilizing so many other weapons. Whether it’s JuJu Smith-Schuster, Vance McDonald, Jesse James or James Washington, the passing game is better when Big Ben doesn’t feel the need to force throws to Brown. That needs to keep up against a stingy Ravens’ defense.
I’m Looking at You Danny Smith. The penalties. The missed tackles. The poor punts. The missed kicks. Right now the Steelers are averaging about one penalty for every nine snaps on special teams. That my friends is ridiculous. The guys on this unit have to clean things up because if they don’t they continue to give away field position. While I realize that Smith can’t punt or kick for Jordan Berry or Chris Boswell, he’s got to find some solutions. Through the first three games, the Steelers’ special teams have been badly outplayed and the Ravens’ unit will once again be solid. Smith need to get some things corrected and get this unit back up to par.
Predictions: I could not have done any better last week. Not only did I predict a Steelers’ win but I nailed the final score as well. I guess I should buy some lottery tickets… After getting his rear end kicked by John Harbaugh in the years prior, Mike Tomlin has bounced back with three straight wins in the series. This game comes down to a few things. Are the Ravens as good as their record or have they beaten two inferior teams in Denver and Buffalo? Or are the Steelers finally starting to click and last week was the catalyst they needed? I fear this game comes down to kicking and that means “advantage Baltimore.” Ravens 26 Steelers 23
Season Prediction Record: 1-2