The 2021/2022 NFL season finale is among us, it has been a winding road to get to this spot of the schedule, but the Steelers still have a lot to play for entering the NFL’s first ever Week 18. If the Steelers want any chance to make the playoffs it all starts with knocking off the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The Ravens’ playoff hopes also begin with knocking off the Steelers, so I anticipate a slug fest. With the Steelers offensive struggles, combined with the likelihood of playing without Diontae Johnson, this game will come down to the defense once again rising to the occasion, forcing turnovers and making Baltimore’s quarterbacks life a living nightmare.
Thankfully for the Pittsburgh Steelers, they lead the NFL in sacks for a fifth consecutive season, and have gotten to the quarterback better against their own divisional opponents compared to any other team they’ve faced all year. Another positive for the Steelers is they have the best football player on the planet hunting quarterbacks, and T.J. Watt is coming for Michael Strahan’s sack record. So, I do expect them to wreck the game from within the Baltimore Ravens’ pocket. If the Steelers can sack Lamar Jackson/Tyler Huntley 4+ times, and create a positive turnover differential, I believe they will win this game.
Since Lamar Jackson has come into the league the Steelers defense has made every encounter with him a memorable one. Jackson seemingly plays worse against the Steelers than he does against most other teams, and a large part of that is due to how often the Steelers get him on the ground with sacks or QB hits. Now it still remains very possible Jackson won't even be available for the Ravens on Sunday afternoon with an ankle injury, but backup quarterback Tyler Huntley carries a very similar skillset and runs the football like a younger Lamar Jackson. The Steelers will need to contain either speedster if they want to collect sacks, but they have done it every time these teams have met in the past and I’m sure it will continue again this week.
If the Ravens quarterbacks get clean pockets and scramble lanes I could also see this day be a long one for the Steelers. Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown can make highlight reel plays when the Ravens have time to deliver the football, so it could get messy if the Steelers can't consistently get pressure on the passer. We have also learned the Steelers can't go score for score with anyone this year, and they have struggled with this even more on the road. The Steelers win this game by keeping it close, and the only way they can do that is with a gritty defensive performance.
But what do you think? Will the Pittsburgh Steelers defense stand tall one last time? And will T.J. Watt break that sack record? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.