Who I like: Steelers at Ravens
Steelers get a chance at a do-over against Baltimore.
It’s not often you get a chance at a do-over just one week after completely laying an egg. Most often for NFL teams, it’s just on to the next game.
But the Baltimore Ravens offer an opportunity at a do-over this week for the Steelers. Only they might not be quite as talented offensively as the Chicago Bears, the team that inexplicably beat the Steelers last week, rushing for over 200 yards in the process.
Wait, the Ravens aren’t as talented offensively as the Bears?
Yep, you read that right.
While Chicago’s Mike Glennon is one of the lowest-rated starters in the NFL with a 79.8 passer rating, that’s far better than the 65.2 rating Baltimore’s Joe Flacco put up in his first three games.
And the Ravens don’t have a running back anywhere near as talented as Chicago’s Jordan Howard, let alone one as speedy as Tarik Cohen.
As for receivers, well, let’s put it this way, through three games, Baltimore’s receivers have caught 13 passes for 132 yards for the NFL’s 32nd-ranked offense.
Surely, you say, the Ravens have a better defense than that of Chicago.
Well, you’d be wrong there, as well.
Chicago had the NFL’s 12th-ranked defense after Week 3. Baltimore is tied for 18th.
The only place where the Ravens have an edge over the Bears is in turnovers. Baltimore forced 10 in its first two games, winning both of those over Cincinnati and Cleveland.
Last week, the Ravens failed to force a turnover and were routed by Jacksonville in London, 44-7.
That will be the key for the Steelers in Sunday’s game at M&T Bank Stadium.
Take care of the football and they should win this game. Don’t take care of it, as they didn’t do last week in Chicago, and they’ll give the Ravens a chance to hang around and win, just as they did the Bears.
Pittsburgh also must get over its Baltimore mystic. Expect a close game and more often than not, you’ll get a close game.
Ben Roethlisberger goes into games against Baltimore with the ghosts of Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata and Ed Reed dancing in his head. And so he plays a little tight.
These Ravens are not an especially good football team. In fact, their best offensive player, guard Marshall Yanda, is on injured reserve.
That sets up well for a Pittsburgh defense getting defensive end Stephon Tuitt back.
The stretch play that caused the Steelers fits at times against the Bears can be blown up before it starts if Tuitt and Heyward blow it up before it starts. And they should dominate guards James Hurst and Matt Skura.
Likewise, the Ravens will be without run-stuffing defensive tackle Brandon Williams. And defensive end Brent Urban was injured against the Jaguars and placed on injured reserve.
The Steelers should be able to run the ball effectively in this game.
Pittsburgh is a 3-point favorite in this game and should look to kick the Ravens when they are down.
Flacco is averaging 5.30 yards per pass play this season. If the Steelers get ahead early, the Ravens, who average 121.3 yards passing per game, are cooked.
They should take care of business as long as they take care of the football.
Because of that, look for Antonio Brown to return to fielding punts for the Steelers after Eli Rogers had a game-changing muffed punt last week.
Mike Tomlin won’t let that happen again.
And the Steelers should win.
Take Pittsburgh, 23-16.