The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, both fresh off of their respective bye weeks, meet once again in what is sure to be another classic, hard-fought AFC North Game.
What: Pittsburgh Steelers 4-3 at Baltimore Ravens 3-4
Where: M&T Bank Stadium Baltimore, MD
When: Sunday November 5th 2016 1pm ET Kickoff
Weather: Sunny and around 61 degrees. Wind at 12mph.
TV: CBS Ian Eagle, Rich Gannon and Evan Washburn on the sidelines.
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley on the sidelines.
Key Injuries: PIT: OUT: Cody Wallace Questionable: William Gay (foot), Ben Roethlisberger (knee), DeAngelo Williams (knee) BAL Out: Elvis Dumervil (foot), Crockett Gillmore (thigh) Questionable: Steve Smith, Sr (ankle), Terrell Suggs (bicep)
2016 NFL Ranks: Ravens’ Offense: Overall 4th Rushing 7th Passing 3rd . Ravens’ Defense: Overall 15th Rushing 12th Passing 21st … Steelers’ Offense: Overall 8th Rushing 13th Passing 9th . Steelers’ Defense: Overall 29th Rushing 18th Passing 31st (Stats updated following TNF)
AFC North Rankings: Pittsburgh 4-3, Baltimore 3-4, Cincinnati 3-4-1, Cleveland 0-8
What You Need to Know: The Steelers have dropped five of their last six and eight of their last 11 games against the Ravens… The Steelers are 1-6 vs the Ravens when Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t play. They are 9-8 when he does… James Harrison is 3 sacks away from being the all-time sack leader in Steelers’ history… Ben Roethlisberger is 2 touchdown passes away from tying Johnny Unitas for 11th on the all-time touchdown passes list.
What’s at Stake: The Steelers and Mike Tomlin need a win for several reasons. They must balance the rivalry which has been dominated by Baltimore of late and they have a huge opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the teams in the division.
All-Time Series: Steelers lead 21-19 and are 9-11 all-time in Baltimore.
Series Highs: Passing: BAL Jeff Blake 336 2002, PIT Ben Roethlisberger 340 yards 2014 Rushing: BAL Justin Forsett 150 2015, PIT Jerome Bettis 137 1997 Receiving: BAL Qadry Ismail 258 yards 1999, PIT Plaxico Burress 164 yards 2001
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
Win the Battle in the Trenches. For all the passing and big plays in the NFL today, this game will still come down to who can control the line of scrimmage. The Steelers expect to have their line in tact for the first time in several weeks with Marcus Gilbert returning to his right tackle position. Their defensive line gets Cam Heyward back and he has sorely been missed the last two games. The Ravens will likely get their best O-Lineman Marshall Yanda back as well. Winning the this battle will mean being able to run and stop the run. That’s where theses games have typically been won or lost.
Ring the Bell. Again and Again. As of this writing, the Steelers are still calling Ben Roethlisberger “50-50” for the game. Whether he does in fact start or whether it’s Landry Jones, Todd Haley has to get Le’Veon Bell involved early and often. In the loss to Miami, I was as stunned as many of you were when Bell finished with just ten carries. Making it worse was that he averaged over five yards per carry. Bell has to be used more often and that means more touches. If he has ten carries or less in this game then Todd Haley will need to have his head examined.
Do the Little Things. During the Ravens current string of dominance over the Steelers, the games haven’t always been blowouts. In fact, most of the games have been very competitive. Part of the reason for Baltimore’s success has been their ability to make just enough plays and at the right time. Whether it was a red zone stop, a gutsy play-call or pass knocked away at the last second, the Ravens have just seemed a step ahead of the Steelers. Mike Tomlin’s crew needs to flip that narrative. They have to tackle well and prevent first down conversions. They have to dictate rather than react and that means being aggressive and alert. If the Steelers are to win, they’ll have do the little things that have escaped them in recent meetings.
Prediction (4-3 on the season)
Part of the difficulty here is not knowing for certain if Big Ben is going to play. I’m going to go ahead and assume he plays. Typically, the longer his absence, the worse his first performance back is. This wasn’t a long absence compared to others but I don’t feel good about this game. Harbaugh has Tomlin’s number and his defenses have been more opportunistic than ours. With that in mind as well as the Steelers’ struggles on the road, I just don’t have high expectations.
Ravens 22 Steelers 17