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The 8-7-1 Pittsburgh Steelers are playing for QB Ben Roethlisberger, now most likely in his final NFL season, this team still barely alive in the playoff race after earning a win over the Cleveland Browns in Big Ben’s final appearance at Heinz Field, a victory brought to the Steelers by defensive play including nine sacks and two interceptions, a group ready to chase Ravens.
Like their opponents, the 8-8 Baltimore Ravens have slim postseason dreams that rely heavily on a win here, the Ravens have already lost to Pittsburgh in Week 13 but by a single point, 19-20, but chances are starting QB Lamar Jackson (ankle) will not suit up and his backup Tyler Huntley will take over under center, though it’s the 25th ranked defense that needs to step here.
These two AFC North rivals have faced each other 55 prior times (including 4 postseason games), with the Baltimore Ravens winning 24 of those games and the Pittsburgh Steelers winning 31 of the games.
After 18 NFL seasons, Pittsburgh Steelers future Hall of Fame QB Ben Roethlisberger is going to finally hang up his cleats, or so he has strongly hinted, his career filled with victories (two Super Bowl wins) and Pro Bowls along with plenty of off the field controversy early on.
Now in possibly his last pro season, Big Ben’s surgically repaired throwing arm seems tired at times though he can also still thread the needle when he needs to, so far this season with 360 completions off 561 attempts for almost 3,500 yards and 21 touchdowns with 9 interceptions.
If this is Roethlisberger’s last NFL game ever, expect it to be a productive one against the Steelers’ main divisional rivals, the Baltimore Ravens, this superstar with 417 career touchdowns will most likely be adding a few more with this extra game.
Since starting QB Lamar Jackson’s ankle is still questionable, backup Tyler Huntley will most likely be starting under center for this one, but that is not necessarily a bad thing since he plays just like the guy he is replacing, a mobile QB who can throw on the run and evade tackles.
This season, Huntley has played in six games and started half of those, right now with a record of 1-2 in those games, the 6’ 1” 196-pound scrambler having completed almost 68 percent of his passes, so far with 106 completions for 940 yards and 3 TDs with 2 interceptions this season.
Where Huntley most resembles Jackson is in his willingness to scramble, so far with 35 carries for 22 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, a handful for the Steelers whose defense ranks 31st against the run, something that Ravens OC Greg Roman will certainly exploit.
It almost doesn’t seem fair for a team to be able to have a guy like T.J. Watt playing for them, since the 6’ 4” 252-pound wrecking machine is never still, always tackling and on the football, and able to sack the quarterback no matter how many chips or double teams you lay on him.
Watt is coming off a team win over the Browns where he posted 4 sacks and 5 QB hits with 5 tackles (three of those for a loss), a production that caused havoc in Cleveland’s game plan, so expect to see the same in Week 18 as his team is fighting to stay alive.
This season, Watt has played in fourteen games and has 59 total tackles (with a league-leading 20 of those for a loss), plus 4 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 6 passes defended, and 21.5 sacks, only one away from tying Michael Strahan’s all-time record of 22.5 sacks in one season.
Every modern NFL team wants their own Gronk (aka TE Rob Gronkowski), meaning a star tight end who can block well at the line but who can also release into the field and catch check down passes, run red zone routes, and earn yards after the catch with his size.
The Ravens have that in Mark Andrews, a 6’ 5” 256-pound playmaker who was drafted in the 3rd round by Baltimore back in 2018, now becoming a go-to target this year with 99 receptions off 138 targets for 1,276 yards and 9 TDs, his first 1,000+ receiving yard NFL season.
Watch for Andrews to help when the Bengals’ pass rush gets too hairy for his QB, whether by blocking or by becoming a check-down the receiver, Mark is a guy who catches 71 percent of what is thrown his way making himself into a valuable offensive asset in Baltimore.
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|Steelers vs Ravens Information|
|What||Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens|
|Where||M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland|
|When||Sunday, January 9, 2022; 1:00 PM ET|
|How to watch||CBS|
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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