Hard to believe but it’s Week 13 of the NFL season. The struggling Pittsburgh Steelers host their rivals from Baltimore in a crucial AFC North battle.
What: Baltimore Ravens (8-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5-1)
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
When: 425pm ET Sunday December 5th, 2021
Weather: Cloudy and 48 degrees
Line: Ravens -4.5 O/U 44
Last Week: The Steelers were humiliated in Cincinnati 41-10 while the Ravens were able to beat the Browns 16-10
TV: CBS Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Tony Romo (analysis), Tracy Wolfson (sideline)
TV Coverage in Your Area: Check 506sports.com for coverage in your area.
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Craig Wolfley with Missi Matthews and Max Starks on the sidelines. (RIP Tunch Ilkin)
Head Official: Scott Novak. A sales manager by day, Novak is in his third season as a head official. His last Steelers’ contest was earlier this season when the Steelers lost to Green Bay. You’ll recall that’s the game where Joe Haden was called offsides on a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown.
Key Injuries/Game Status (courtesy steelers.com) PIT: DE Isaiah Buggs (Ankle) – Out
CB Joe Haden (Foot) – Out BAL: T Cedric Ogbuehi (Thigh) – Out, WR Miles Boykin (Finger) – Doubtful
CB Anthony Averett (Shoulder/Ankle) – Questionable, TE Nick Boyle (Knee) – Questionable
OLB Jaylon Ferguson (Illness) – Questionable, CB Marlon Humphrey (Illness) – Questionable
OL Patrick Mekari (Ankle) – Questionable, OLB Odafe Oweh (Shoulder) – Questionable, LB Patrick Queen (Ribs) – Questionable, FB Patrick Ricard (Foot/Thigh) – Questionable
Injury Notes: As of Friday evening, T.J. Watt tested negative for Covid. He will need another negative test in order to have a chance to play on Sunday… Cam Heyward was not at the facility Friday. He was home with an undisclosed illness. Both of these situations bear watching. UPDATE: Watt has been activated and WILL play today.
2021 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 22nd BAL 4th Passing Offense: PIT 1th BAL 13th Rushing Offense: PIT 27th BAL 2nd
Total Defense: PIT 25th BAL 19th Passing Defense: PIT 12th BAL 32nd Rushing Defense: PIT 28th BAL 2nd
AFC North Rankings: Baltimore 8-3, Cincinnati 7-4, Pittsburgh 5-5-1, Cleveland 6-6
This Week in the AFC North: LA Chargers at Cincinnati 1pm, Cleveland BYE Week
What You Need to Know: Chris Boswell has connected on 70 of his last 74 field goal attempts… The Steelers have 40 offensive starts by rookies. That’s the most in the NFL by ten… Mike Tomlin is 14-14 all-time against the Ravens… Tomlin is 74-36 when his opponent is coming off a victory the week before… Ben Roethlisberger needs 570 yards passing to pass Philip Rivers for fifth all-time… Big Ben will tie Rivers today with the most games played by a QB at 244… Lamar Jackson has four fourth-quarter comebacks in 2021. Roethlisberger has three… Najee Harris has 248 touches without a fumble. That’s the most in the NFL… Pittsburgh has won two straight against Baltimore and three of the last five.
Baltimore Ravens Names to Know: QB Lamar Jackson, TE Mark Andrews, LB Patrick Queen, EDGE Tyus Bowser, WR Marquise Brown, CB Jimmy Smith,
What’s at Stake: For Baltimore it’s to stay atop the AFC North and maintain in the race for the top seed. For the Steelers, its quite simple. A loss will make winning the North almost impossible. It will also put their postseason chances in severe doubt.
All-Time Series: Steelers lead 30-24
Last Meeting: December 2020 in Pittsburgh. Steelers 19 Ravens 14
Check out the latest Steel City Blitz Steelers Podcast for more on this game.
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
1. Stop the Run. No Excuses. The Ravens have to be licking their chops as they prepare to face a defense that is getting gashed by the running game. If there were ever a moment to get off blocks, fill gaps and tackle like machines this is it. I realize that’s a tall task for a group that has been struggling in recent weeks and now has to do it without Joe Haden (again) and potentially Can Heyward although we hear he will play. Am I asking too much? Probably but it’s the only way this defense can contribute to a victory. Making Lamar Jackson one-dimensional is always a good step towards victory.
2. No Huddle All the Time. For years, the Indianapolis Colts ran the no huddle offense because it’s what Peyton Manning did best. It’s no secret in Pittsburgh that Ben Roethlisberger is often at his best when his offense is in the same situation. People often mistake this with a “hurry up” offense. That’s not what this is. Everyone gets to the line of scrimmage rather than going to the huddle. Big Ben can take his time, tell his skill players what he wants them to do and then relay the info to his O-Line. It also limits the defense’s ability to substitute. If the Steelers commit to this regularly they’ll have a chance.
3. Pride and Effort. This team has been challenged. Former players have called their recent performances “embarrassing” and current players line T.J. Watt has as well. During team meetings on Monday, there were many things said by players and coaches that needed to be said. When everyone is challenging you, your effort and your ability then you have two choices. You either fight your ass or you throw in the towel. The former has to be the way to go here. Your main rival is in town and your season is on the line. Now is the time to dig deep.
Prediction: With Watt and Heyward able to go, then I think the Steelers have a chance. This Baltimore defense is not what it traditionally is and Lamar Jackson has been very mistake prone as his four interceptions last week illustrate. John Harbaugh is notorious for running it up on the Steelers when he gets a chance and I think they’ll do everything possible to give him that opportunity. The lack of Joe Haden and the awful play of the offensive line and linebackers will put this game away early and I take no solace in saying that.
Ravens 30 Steelers 17
Season Prediction Record: 7-4