The Steelers face another big game this Sunday afternoon as they host their bitter rivals, the Baltimore Ravens. After a 2-0 start, the Ravens come into Heinz Field losers of their last two games and in desperate need of a victory.
The black and gold, after finally putting up a ‘W’ against the Bengals, need a win just as badly. Should the Steelers find a way to pull off the game and the Browns lose on Monday Night, the Steelers will find themselves atop the AFC North after a dreadful 0-3 start.
It won’t be easy for the black and gold but if they can come out with a solid game plan, they have a real shot of getting it done.
First and foremost, the defense needs to continue to rush and sack the quarterback as they did against the Bengals. Getting to Lamar Jackson won’t be as easy as it was getting to Andy Dalton. Jackson has had a very solid year thus far, only throwing two interceptions vs. the ten touchdowns he’s put up but if the black and gold can get heavy pressure on him, he can be forced into mistakes. The front seven will need to contain him if he scrambles but if they can force him to make quick decisions, the defense will win that battle more often than not.
The secondary is going to need to make sure Marquise Brown plays like he did the last two games vs. the first two games where he was unstoppable. Joe Haden will probably man up against Brown and will stick with him all day.
I believe the Ravens are going to try to bring a heavy dose of Mark Ingram to the game plan. He’s averaging 6.0 yards per carry and can easily take the pressure off of Jackson if he’s successful and the black and gold are getting to the quarterback with regularity.
But the game plan cant’ stop with the defense. The offense needs to be opened up. Randy Fichtner must allow Mason Rudolph to throw the ball downfield. JuJu Smith-Schuster is a big-time playmaker that needs to see the ball more often. Rudolph wants to involve Schuster, will Fichtner let him? The wild cat and touch passes will not work against the Ravens, in my opinion, so let the game plan open up and see what happens.
Much like Jackson, Rudolph needs his running game to help him as well. I’d like to see the Steelers bring a heavy workload from both James Conner and Jaylen Samuels. If those two can get going, that should, in turn, open up the deeper passing game.
My gut feeling is it’s going to come down to special teams, kicking, punting, and most importantly, coverage teams. This will be a tight game, as it always is between these two teams. Despite the fact that the Steelers are at home and coming off a win, I don’t think they are quite as good as the Ravens and therefore I think the Ravens are going to win it late.
Baltimore 23 - Pittsburgh 20