NFL Game of the Week: Steelers vs. Ravens
The NFL’s most heated rivalry takes center stage in Week 4, as the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC North matchup.
Make no mistake about it, these two teams hate each other. With four postseason meetings since 2002, this rivalry has elevated to being the league’s best rivalry. With seemly every game being decided by three points or less, this week’s matchup surely has the look of coming down to the wire.
This is the first matchup between these two teams since the Christmas Day game where the Steelers made a fourth quarter comeback to win the game and the division. Wideout Antonio Brown caught a slant pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and was able to stretch the ball over the goal line for a touchdown with 9 seconds left.
Both teams enter Week 4 with a record of 2-1, and are tied on the top of the AFC North. Pittsburgh and Baltimore are both looking to rebound from disappointing losses last week.
The Steelers lost at Chicago 23-17 in overtime. This was very poor performance by Pittsburgh as many expected the Steelers to dominate the Bears, but the opposite happened. Chicago was able to run for 220 yards on the Steeler defense and even got the win regardless of quarterback Mike Glennon only throwing for 84 yards.
However, the biggest disappointment for the Steelers so far this young season has to be the offense. An offense many expect to be among the league’s elite has been far from it. Antonio Brown has been the only outstanding one as he is leading the league in receptions (26) and yards (354) through week three.
On the other side, the Ravens are coming off a 44-7 loss to the Jaguars across the pond in London. In a result that nobody expected, Jacksonville dominated Baltimore in every aspect of the game. Quarterback Joe Flacco was awful in this game going for only 28 yards and two interceptions. He was pulled after the third quarter for Ryan Mallett.
Look for both teams to turn out much better performances in Week Four.
Steelers Offense vs. Ravens Defense
The matchup to watch on Sunday is the Steelers offense versus the Ravens defense. Both units are elite and is always fun to watch when these two teams face off.
Pittsburgh will look to establish Le’Veon Bell against a tough Ravens front seven. Bell has struggled early this season due to his absence in training camp and the offensive line struggling to make holes for him.
Roethlisberger and the passing attack looks to get back into their groove that they had late last season. With plenty of weapons on the outside, including Brown, Bryant, and Eli Rogers, the Steelers should be more than capable of putting 30 points per week.
The Ravens look to close off the holes for Bell and try to make the Steelers one-dimensional. Baltimore’s defense ranks 19th in the league against run, but ranked fifth last year. A defensive front led by linebacker C.J. Mosley aims to rebound from last week’s debacle.
A Ravens secondary led by safety Eric Weddle looks to shut down Pittsburgh’s potent attack. After getting torched by Blake Bortles last week, the Ravens secondary should be locked in this week to face their archrival. The Ravens lead the league with eight interceptions and are top 10 in sacks.
Ravens Offense vs. Steelers Defense
Flacco has struggled this season as he has four interceptions compared to three touchdowns. Flacco, however, seems to play his against Pittsburgh so, look for him to have his best game of the young season.
The running attack of the Ravens has been a weak spot for this offense. However, through three games they rank fourth in the league in rushing. Look for Baltimore to run Terrance West to set up the deep bomb for Flacco.
The weak link of the Steelers is their secondary. Even though the defense has seen improvement this season, the level of competition hasn’t been the greatest. The addition of cornerback Joe Haden and development of cornerback Artie Burns has been a catalyst for the improvement, but Flacco and company should be a better test for this young secondary.
A Steelers front seven led by speedy linebacker Ryan Shazier and end Cameron Heyward gets after the quarterback. They are tied for second in the league in sacks with 11. With the return of rookie linebacker T.J. Watt, watch for Pittsburgh to send lots of blitzes at Flacco in hopes of putting them in third and long situations.
These two teams seem to always bring the best out in each other. M&T Bank Stadium should be rocking on Sunday and that could be a difference in the outcome. Pittsburgh hasn’t won in Baltimore since 2012, but I think that streak comes to an end on Sunday as the Steelers squeak out a hard-fought win.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 23, Baltimore 17
Camden Tofil is a freshman majoring in advertising/public relations. To contact him, email email@example.com.