Under the bright lights on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens will continue one of the league’s most physical rivalries. This matchup has a lot on the line, as a Steelers victory clinches them their third AFC North Division championship in four seasons, while the Ravens will try to maintain a wild card spot that they are holding on to as of right now.
The Steelers will attempt to recover from their physically and emotionally draining win over the the Cincinnati Bengals. They will be moving on without their defensive leader in Ryan Shazier, who suffered a spinal injury in Monday’s game. They also won’t have the services of JuJu Smith-Schuster, who is serving a one game suspension for a hit on the Bengals’ Vontaze Burfict in Monday’s game. The Steelers won 26-9 in Week 4 in Baltimore, but they have not swept the season against the Ravens since 2008.
Here is the analysis of the Steelers week 14 opponent: The Baltimore Ravens
Ravens on Offense
Joe Flacco is so far having the worst season statistically of his career, but he had his best statistical game of the season last week against the Detroit Lions, throwing for 269 yards and two touchdowns. The Ravens have been able to successfully run the ball with the duo of Alex Collins and Buck Allen recently, even without the services of All-Pro guard Marshall Yanda, who is on injured reserve with a fractured ankle.
The Ravens offensive game plan on Sunday will be simple: Have more balance on offense than in Week 4. The pass to run ratio in the meeting in Baltimore was 49 to 13. So look for Baltimore to give the Steelers a heavy dose of their running backs, including Danny Woodhead who will be a option that Flacco did not have in his last meeting. In the three games that he has played after his hamstring injury he has had 11 catches for 58 yards and eight carries for 33 yards.
Player to Watch — WR Mike Wallace
The former Steeler last week proved that he still is a credible deep ball threat with a 66 yard TD against the Lions. He had a 99 yard touchdown against the Steelers last season.
Ravens on Defense
The Ravens lead the league in takeaways with 29, including a league high 20 interceptions. The Ravens have also pitched three shutouts so far this season. They have allowed only 207 points, which is good for the third fewest in the league.
The Ravens defensive game plan against the Steelers is always the same: stop Le’Veon Bell and hit Ben Roethlisberger. That plan did not go so well in the first match up with Bell amassing 186 total yards and Roethlisberger having 175 yards passing by halftime. The Ravens defense will be boosted by the services of their 340 pound nose tackle Brandon Williams, who has made a big difference in their run defense. Since his return, the Ravens went from dead last in the NFL against the run to a respectable 16th in the league.
Player to watch — CB Marlon Humphries
The 2017 first round pick out of Alabama will take the place of Jimmy Smith, who tore his Achilles last Sunday, and will be thrust into the spotlight with the assignment of covering Antonio Brown on Sunday.
In another classic game between these two teams, the Steelers will make the critical stop on defense and Roethlisberger will make just enough plays for the Steelers to clinch the AFC North title with a 23-20 victory.