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Somehow the 8-3 Baltimore Ravens just keep finding ways to win, some of their victories ugly like their Week 12 win over the Cleveland Browns, 16-10, but now they sit atop the AFC North and the entire conference as the projected number one playoff seed, so a divisional win against these Steelers is critical but the Ravens 31st ranked passing defense must step up.
It was tough to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers get blown out last week by their divisional rivals, the Bengals, and now their aging quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who has been struggling with throwing deep balls must outscore the evasive Lamar Jackson, and Big Ben’s 5-5-1 AFC North basement-dwelling Steelers need every win they can get to keep their playoff hopes alive.
These two AFC North rivals have Played each other 54 prior times (including 4 postseason games), with the Pittsburgh Steelers winning 30 of those games and the Baltimore Ravens winning 24 of the games.
The Baltimore Ravens are 8-3 so far this season and more importantly, they are 1-1 in the AFC North, a stat they can improve on by beating the Steelers here in Week 13, a game Baltimore should win since they are better than Pittsburgh on both sides of the ball.
This could be a trap game if Lamar Jackson and company get overly confident against the underdog Steelers, but this game is in Pittsburgh at Heinz Field and those hometown fans will quickly remind every Baltimore player exactly what is at stake for both teams here.
The Ravens score almost 24 points per game which is about how many points this Steelers defense typically gives up, but no matter what the score is, watch for Baltimore to make it close by the end of the fourth quarter the way they’ve been doing this season in almost every game.
The key to beating the Ravens is to figure out how to not let their elusive quarterback Lamar Jackson escape the pocket for an ‘easy’ first down, that is if his ability to juke and fake his way out of tackles for the extra yards is as ‘easy’ as he makes it look.
It will be the job of the Steelers defensive line to seal the edge of their pass rush while covering all escape routes up the middle, something that outside linebacker T.J. Watt excels at as does defensive tackle Cameron Heyward, two bright spots on this 25th ranked defense.
Keeping Jackson contained is tough, but the Steelers are just the club to do it, right now tied with the fifth most team sacks in the league (30) and the seventh most tackles in the NFL (495), a force that could be used against Jackson’s moves to keep the Steelers in the game.
Every NFL team seems to be searching for their version of future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski, and the Ravens have found theirs in Mark Andrews who is quickly becoming a Baltimore household name as he stacks up receptions and touchdowns this season.
Andrews is a 6’ 5” 256-pound powerhouse with soft enough hands to be dangerous, this year with 60 catches for 761 yards and 5 touchdowns, a favorite check down target for QB Jackson as well as a dependable red zone receiver who gets yards after the catch and who can score.
The Steelers have the 12th most effective pass defense in the league and much of their attention better be spent on babysitting Andrews, including making it tough for him to get off the line of scrimmage and double-teaming him on the crossing routes that make him so productive.
It’s not often a rookie comes into the NFL and blows away expectations but running back Najee Harris seems to be doing that in Pittsburgh during his first year in the league, so far becoming an integral part of the Steelers offense.
The Steelers’ rushing attack is ranked just 26th in the league, but despite that Harris is still having a decent rookie campaign, so far with 196 carries for 708 yards and 5 touchdowns along with 52 catches for 351 yards and 2 TDs, a dual threat who will no doubt improve with reps.
Harris can provide the perfect counterpunch to Ben Roethlisberger’s passing attack, with an early run game established the play action fakes towards the end of the game become more effective, a 22nd ranked offense that needs big numbers from Harris to succeed.
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|Ravens vs Steelers Information|
|What||Baltimore Ravens vs Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Where||Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA|
|When||Sunday, December 5, 2021; 4:25 PM ET|
|How to watch||CBS|
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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