Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens Preview
Welcome to the Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens Preview! This is your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about the Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich of Pittsburgh SportsNation brings you inside the huddle for both teams, providing all fans with a Game Preview, the Steelers’ Keys to Victory, Score Prediction, a detailed breakdown of each team, Fantasy Football Impact, Game Information, Individual Stats, Team Stats, the latest Injury Report, down to the weather at kickoff. The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!
An Angry Steelers Team Prepares For Another Bitter AFC North Rival In Baltimore
As with any game when the Steelers face an AFC North rival, last Sunday night’s tilt against the Cincinnati Bengals was a vicious, physical affair. Ryan Shazier got injuried when making a tackle on Joe Mixon. He left the game in an ambulance, unable to have to feel in his legs. The Steelers seemed like they were in a haze during the first half of the game, obviously worried over their fallen teammate.
The Steelers were able to rise above all the adversity they faced to come back from 17-0 to defeat the Bengals on a last-second field goal by Chris Boswell 23-20.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster received a penalty and later suspended for one game for a hard block on Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict. If Smith-Schuster didn’t make the block, Burfict would’ve been able to make a tackle on Le’Veon Bell who was trying to put the Steelers into field goal range. Antonio Brown was hit in the head making a touchdown catch by George Iloka. He would be as well, but his suspension was later overturned after an appeal.
Smith-Schuster’s appeal was not approved.
Thus, the NFL deemed a hard block by Smith-Schuster to call for the same penalty by the Patriot’s Rob Gronkowski, who drove his elbow and shoulder, AFTER THE PLAY, into the head of a defenseless player lying face-down on the ground.
Are you serious?
“I think it’s stupid, the stupidest thing in the world,” Maurkice Pouncey said. “The kid is just playing hard football. For him to have the same suspension as Gronk is just embarrassing. It’s ridiculous.”
Steelers safety Mike Mitchell was livid.
“We’ve got to do better as players when we sign the next CBA,” Mitchell said, referring to the collective bargaining agreement that runs through the 2020 season. “We’ve got to get better leadership as who’s running the league.
“Obviously, everybody from fans to owners to players is all disappointed in Roger Goodell. We’ve just got to do better. We can’t have a guy where you just hand out discipline on how you see fit. There needs to be a set of guidelines.”
Mitchell was hardly done. He wasn’t upset about George Iloka’s hit either.
“We are physical safeties,” he said. “Think about what you ask us to do. We are always the last line of defense. We are always making bang-bang plays. You never see us get to line somebody up in a hole like a linebacker. We’re playing at full speed.
“He’s (running) 4.4, 4.3 speed. Aim that, you can’t do that. You can’t. It’s just the risk of playing football. If the ball is in the air and a man jumps or a man ducks his head, how do you want me to readjust my body? You cannot do it. At the end of the day, this is FOOT-BALL.”
“If you want to see flag football, let us take our pads off and make it easier for me.”
Smith-Schuster is the first Steelers player that was suspended this season.
“This ain’t football,” Mitchell said. “You have to know what the risk is when you sign up. No one wants to become paralyzed. No one wants to have head injuries. These are all things that are negative. Let’s not try to turn football into a dangerous, barbaric game. This is how I’ve changed my family legacy. Before I would be, I had $368 in my bank account. That is far from the case today.”
Mitchell continued: “This is a combat, contact sport. There is injuries. That’s just what it is. If you don’t want to get injured, don’t come out here. This is for real men. This is a man’s game. … If you feel like a little kid and don’t want to get your (butt) hit, then don’t come out here. It’s for grown men.”
As for Ryan Shazier, all the coaches and players care about is if Shazier will make a full recovery.
“I’m not worried about him playing for us again,” Steelers defensive coördinator Keith Butler said. “I’m more worried about him. … The thing that we’re hopeful for and prayerful for is he comes back and is OK. The football stuff is secondary. His life is a lot more important than being a football player.”
“He’s getting a million text messages, so I don’t want to keep bothering him,” Cam Heyward said, adding that the entire team is still rattled. “As a person, yeah, as a human being. You could hear a pin drop in the stadium. … Nobody wants to see that type of injury. Ryan is a dear friend of mine, but I don’t wish that ill will on anybody.”
“I know it kills him that he’s not out there,” he said. “But he wants us to win a ballgame. It’s going to be a little harder on us, but we’ve just got to keep playing.”
Steelers Keys To Victory
- Keep the Ravens Defense Honest! The Ravens will sell out to stop Le’Veon Bell. A few deep ball connections to Brown or Bryant will keep their safeties from crowding the line.
- Be Unpredictable! Utilize the no-huddle and spread the wealth to the various weapons the Steelers have.
- Line Up Le’Veon Bell Wide! Bell is a match-up nightmare in the passing game.
- Eliminate the Mental Mistakes! The Steelers secondary has been bad over and over and over the past month with miscommunication. That HAS to end now.
- Tackle! Better said than done. The tackling has been sub-par and well below standard. Get the job done!
It’s Ravens Week! As much fun as it is beating the Bengals and Browns is, nothing is as satisfying as sending Baltimore home with their tails between their legs.
“You never forget your greatest foe,” Terrell Suggs said to Baltimore reporters this week. “What would (Michael) Jordan be without the Pistons and the Knicks? Ali and Frazier? … Sports are built on great rivalries like this. It brings the best out of you, so that is why I love this game so much.”
This is the game both the fans and players look forward to. As much as these two teams hate each other, there is always a mutual respect between the two squads.
“It’s a special spot in my heart,” Roethlisberger said of the rivalry. “I know it’s always a physical game. My body doesn’t always like it. But … the difference between this game and Cincinnati’s game is (with) these two teams, us and Baltimore, we’ve battled it out, and as long as I have been here, there is always respect involved with it.
“You’re going to get hit really hard or you’re going to hit somebody really hard, but you’re going to help them up and say, ‘Man, nice job.’… It’s a fun rivalry in a sense that there’s a lot of respect, and it’s two good football teams.”
It will be another hard-fought game between these two foes. Rarely are these games not close.
If the Steelers win, they will clinch the AFC North Division Title and continue their hold on one of the top two seeds in the AFC. There is no place like home in the playoffs, especially at Heinz Field.
A huge match-up looms next week when the Patriot’s come to town, but first things first. There is a division to win, and factoring in how well the Steelers play both in prime time and at home, they ly raising that AFC North banner around 11:30 pm Sunday night.
Steelers 24 Ravens 17
NFL Week 14
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-2) vs Baltimore Ravens (7-5)
Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.
Game-time: Sunday, December 10th, 8:30 pm
TV: NBC (WPXI-TV) | Announcers: Al Michaels (play-by-play) Cris Collinsworth (analyst) | Michele Tafoya (sideline)
Local Radio: Pittsburgh: 102.5 WDVE-FM | Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Tunch Ilkin (analyst) | Craig Wolfley (sideline)
National Radio: Westwood One | Announcers: Kevin Kugler (play-by-play) Jason Taylor (analyst) |
Weather at Kickoff: 31 and cloudy.
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh -4.5
- Series History: Series began in 1996.
- The Steelers are 23-20 in the overall Regular Season series against the Ravens.
- Steelers are 13-8 playing at home vs the Ravens.
- Streak: Steelers won previous two meetings.
- Last Regular Season Meeting: Oct. 1, 2017, at Baltimore: Pittsburgh 26, Baltimore 9
- Steelers are 3-1 in the Post-Season vs the Ravens.
- Last Post-Season Meeting: Jan. 3, 2015, in Pittsburgh, Pa.- Baltimore 30 Pittsburgh 17 (AFC Wild Card)
- Ravens HC John Harbaugh was the TE coach for the University of Pittsburgh in 1987.
- The Steelers aim to improve to 27-20 on Sunday Night Football (13-7 at home).
- The Steelers look to extend their current win streak to eight with a win on Sunday night.
- Ben Roethlisberger with a win, would improve to 12-8 vs. Baltimore in the regular season as a starter and to 9-2 at home vs. the Ravens.
- Antonio Brown needs 208 yards from scrimmage to join Franco Harris, Hines Ward, and Jerome Bettis as the only players in Steelers history with at least 10,000 scrimmage yards.
- Brown, with 100 catches in 2017, will become the first player in NFL history to record 100 or more receptions in five consecutive years.
- Le’Veon Bell is 277 rushing yards from surpassing Willie Parker (5,378) for the third most in Steelers history.
- James Harrison is 2.5 sacks from 85 in his career with the Steelers.
- Chris Boswell is two field goals shy of setting a new single-season career high (29 in 2015).
- Cam Heyward will extend his single-season career-high in sacks with his next quarterback takedown (9.0 in 2017).
A look at the Pittsburgh Steelers!
Overall Record: 10-2
Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (11th Season with Steelers)
Overall Regular Season Record: 113-59 (.657)
Playoff Record: 8-6 (Qualified for playoffs 7 times)
Last Game: Steelers 23 Bengals 20
Scouting the Steelers
Quarterback- Ben Roethlisberger leads a vastly underperforming offense that is able to beat you via the ground or the air. Big Ben has normally been outstanding at home but has struggled to put up the same numbers on the road the past few seasons.
Running Backs- Le’Veon Bell is considered to be one of the best all-around backs in the NFL, if not the best. Bell can kill you on the ground with his speed and elusiveness. He is patient, often delaying a second to find the hole to burst through. Bell is also dangerous out of the backfield as a pass catcher. James Conner will spell Bell from time to time.
Wide Receivers- Antonio Brown is the best receiver in the game. You can count on five catches for at least 50 yards every week at a minimum. This wideout group is extremely deep and talented. Martavis Bryant is a deep threat on every play with his size and speed. Eli Rogers is excellent from the slot. Justin Hunter has superior speed and is also a deep threat. Rookie Juju Smith-Schuster is looking to make his mark in the NFL in his first season and is already becoming a reliable Roethlisberger target. Darrius Heyward-Bey is mainly used on special teams, but is a dependable player when called upon in the passing game.
Tight Ends- Jesse James is the starter and becoming one of Roethlisberger’s favorite targets around the end zone. Vance McDonald is a big target that can make splash plays for Roethlisberger across the middle and inside the red zone. Xavier Grimble is also a nice option for Ben inside the 10-yard line.
Defense- The Steelers defense is poised for an awakening in 2017. On the 3-4 defensive line, it’s Cam Heyward, Javon Hargrave, and Stephen Truitt. Daniel McCullers will rotate with Hargrave. Should Truitt or Heyward go down, Tyson Alualu or L.T. Walton would step in.
At linebacker, rookie TJ Watt starts at OLB, with Ryan Shazier and Vince Williams in the middle. Bud Dupree stands opposite of Watt. Both can get at the quarterback and disrupt the opposing team’s passing game. Shazier was a stud in the middle and his speed makes him a nightmare for any QB who makes a mistake across the middle. With Shazier out, Arthur Moats, Tyler Matakevich, and Sean Spence will make the best of a bad situation. Don’t count out James Harrison, who will rotate in to spell Watt or Dupree. Anthony Chickillo will also step in for injuries to Watt or Dupree on the outside and is making a name for himself every time he steps on the field.
The secondary has had a redo with adding Joe Haden at corner. He won’t have to guard the opposing team’s #1 wide receiver on every down, as that job falls to Artie Burns. Coty Sensabaugh is the backup corner. Mike Mitchell lines up at free safety, with J.J. Wilcox or Robert Golden backing him up if injured. Sean Davis is getting better by the game at strong safety. Mike Hilton and Will Gay will be in at slot corner positions when called upon.
Ben Roethlisberger (3,238 yards passing | 22 TD passes | 13 interceptions | 16 sacks | 33 yards rushing | 0 TD’s)
Le’Veon Bell (1,057 yards rushing | 5 rushing TD’s | 66 receptions | 502 yards receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
James Conner (125 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
Antonio Brown (88 receptions | 1,296 receiving yards | 9 receiving TD’s)
Juju Smith-Schuster (37 receptions | 585 receiving yards | 5 receiving TD’s)
Martavis Bryant (31 receptions | 386 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
Eli Rogers (12 receptions | 91 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
Justin Hunter (3 receptions | 18 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
Darrius Heyward-Bey (1 receptions | 44 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
Jesse James (29 receptions | 259 receiving yards | 3 receiving TD’s)
Vance McDonald (5 receptions | 79 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
Xavier Grimble (3 receptions | 22 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
Chris Boswell (Extra Point: 23-25 | FG: 28-31 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 9-9 | 30-39: 10-12 | 40-49: 7-8 | 50+: 2-2 | Long: 53)
A look at the Baltimore Ravens!
Overall Record: 7-5
Head Coach: John Harbaugh (10th Season with Ravens)
Overall Regular Season Record: 92-64 (.590) |
Playoff Record: 10-5 (Qualified for playoffs 6 times)
Last Week: Ravens 44 Lions 20
Scouting the Ravens
Joe Flacco (2,144 yards passing | 11 TD passes | 11 interceptions | 23 sacks | 53 yards rushing | 0 TD’s)
Alex Collins (705 yards rushing | 4 rushing TD’s | 11 receptions | 75 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
Javorius Allen (422 yards rushing | 2 rushing TD’s | 42 receptions | 204 yards receiving | 2 receiving TD’s)
Danny Woodhead (37 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 14 receptions | 91 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
Mike Wallace (34 receptions | 487 receiving yards | 3 receiving TD’s)
Jeremy Maclin (36 receptions | 391 receiving yards | 3 receiving TD’s)
Chris Moore (12 receptions | 165 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
Benjamin Watson (45 receptions | 347 receiving yards | 3 receiving TD’s)
Nick Boyle (21 receptions | 160 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
Justin Tucker (Extra Point: 26-26 | FG: 26-29 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 7-7 | 30-39: 6-6 | 40-49: 8-9 | 50+: 5-7 | Long: 57)
Fantasy Football Impact
Start: QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Antonio Brown, RB Le’Veon Bell, Steelers D
Sleeper: WR Martavis Bryant
Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are always going to be in your starting line-up if you are lucky enough to have them. Ben Roethlisberger is money in Prime Time games.
Start: K Justin Tucker
Sleeper: RB Alex Collins
The Ravens aren’t exactly an offensively gifted team.
Steelers-Ravens: Offensive vs Defensive Comparison
Steelers Offense: Steelers average 376.6 | Ravens allow 311.3 YPG
Rushing: Steelers average 103.1 YPG | Ravens allow 112.7 YPG
Passing: Steelers average 273.5 YPG | Ravens allow 198.6 YPG
Scoring: Steelers average 23.4 PPG | Ravens allow 17.3 PPG
Steelers Defense: Steelers allow 294.7 YPG | Ravens average 302 YPG
Rushing: Steelers allow 98.8 YPG | Ravens average 115.5 YPG
Passing: Steelers allow 195.8 YPG | Ravens average 186.5 YPG
Scoring: Steelers allow 17.8 PPG | Ravens average 23.3 PPG
Injury Report (12/9/2017)
Out: CB Joe Haden (Fibula), LB Tyler Matakevich (Shoulder), LB Ryan Shazier (Back)
Questionable: S Mike Mitchell (Ankle)
Doubtful: LB Za’Darius Smith
Questionable: G Jermaine Eluemunor (Shoulder), WR Jeremy Maclin (Back), LB C.J. Mosley (Neck)
Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 Schedule
Friday, Aug. 11 @ New York Giants W, 20-12 (KDKA)
Sunday, Aug. 20 ATLANTA W, 17-13 (KDKA)
Saturday, Aug. 26 INDIANAPOLIS L, 19-15 (KDKA)
Thursday, Aug. 31 @ Carolina W, 17-14 (KDKA)
REGULAR SEASON (10-2)
Sunday, Sept. 10 @ Cleveland 1 p.m. (CBS), W– 21-18
Sunday, Sept. 17 MINNESOTA 1 p.m. (FOX), W– 26-9
Sunday, Sept. 24 @ Chicago 1 p.m. (CBS), L- 17-23
Sunday, Oct. 1 @ Baltimore 1 p.m. (CBS), W– 26-9
Sunday, Oct. 8 JACKSONVILLE 1 p.m. (CBS), L- 9-30
Sunday, Oct. 15 @ Kansas City 4:25 p.m. (CBS), W– 19-13
Sunday, Oct. 22 CINCINNATI 4:25 p.m. (CBS), W– 29-14
Sunday, Oct. 29 @ Detroit* 8:30 p.m. (NBC), W– 20-15
Sunday, Nov. 5 BYE WEEK
Sunday, Nov. 12 @ Indianapolis* 1 p.m. (CBS), W– 20-17
Thursday, Nov. 16 TENNESSEE 8:25 p.m. (NBC/ NFL Network/Amazon), W– 40-17
Sunday, Nov. 26 GREEN BAY* 8:30 p.m. (NBC), W– 31-28
Monday, Dec. 4 @ Cincinnati 8:30 p.m. (ESPN), W– 23-20
Sunday, Dec. 10 BALTIMORE* 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Dec. 17 NEW ENGLAND* 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Monday, Dec. 25 @ Houston 4:30 p.m. (NBC/ NFL Network/Amazon)
Sunday, Dec. 31 CLEVELAND* 1 p.m. (CBS)
* – Times may change due to flexible scheduling
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 6-7 Wild Card Weekend
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 13-14 Divisional Playoﬀ Games
Sunday, Jan. 21 Conference Championships
Sunday, Jan. 28 Pro Bowl (Orlando, Fla.)
Sunday, Feb. 4 Super Bowl LII (Minneapolis, Minn.)