The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for their 2022 regular season Week 14 game with a game at home vs. the Baltimore Ravens. A tough task for the Steelers, despite them winning back-to-back games for the first time this 2022 regular season.
With this being such a big game, not like every game isn’t a big game, I was able to ask Kyle Barber of Baltimore Beatdown, SB Nation’s Baltimore Ravens website, five questions leading up to the game.
Check out the Q&A below, and be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook for all your betting needs this season.
The Ravens’ offense, even with Lamar Jackson, has been mediocre at best since the bye week. Having scored 13, 27 and 10 points, what are the main issues with the offense?
A number of things have culminated in the Ravens’ offense not delivering as a whole.
To begin, wide receiver Rashod Bateman suffered a season-ending foot injury. Behind Bateman is a young, unproven group that hasn’t delivered on their opportunities which were there for the taking. Instead of 2020 sixth-round receiver James Proche and 2021 fourth-rounder Tylan Wallace playing No. 2 or No. 3 roles, the Ravens have operated with Demarcus Robinson, a veteran they signed after the first round of cuts, and 36-year-old DeSean Jackson.
Another part has been the lack of success running the football on designed run plays. Lamar Jackson (and Tyler Huntley last week) have been successful in breaking loose and scrambling, but the designed rushing attack has struggled in and out of games. Part of this is due to the running back situation, where they didn’t have running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards to begin the season. This, paired with the offensive line struggling to congeal and consistently open lanes sporadically has forced further difficulty. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley being in and out is another big factor.
The red zone is the final number. The Ravens are struggling to score once they’ve made their way into the final 20 yards. Some of the issues are due to scheme, but the plays have been there for the taking. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Robinson dropped a touchdown in the end zone. As did tight end Mark Andrews, and so did tight end Josh Oliver.
On the other side of the football is a defense which has been stellar since the bye week. Throw out the 28 points surrendered in the loss to the Jaguars, and the defense has held opponents to single-digits. While we know what they do well, where are the weaknesses in the Ravens’ defense?
The Ravens seem to go as cornerback Marlon Humphrey goes. When he’s in, it feels like half the field has been negated. This has led to teams attacking cornerback Marcus Peters, or whoever is on the opposing side. Peters has been up-and-down, and recently opened up about doubting his abilities and his ‘football mortality.’ So, passing against not Marlon Humphrey is a good start.
It does feel as though the Ravens have few weaknesses on defense. After adding linebacker Roquan Smith, he and Patrick Queen have been flying around and making plays consistently. The defensive line as a whole has been solid and the pass rush has turned into a solid rotation of Justin Houston, Jason Pierre-Paul, Tyus Bowser and Odafe Oweh.
Tyler Huntley is one of the more proven back-up quarterbacks in the league. What does he do which gives Ravens fans confidence, and what does he do which has them uneasy about him starting in Week 14 in Pittsburgh?
Huntley is a player that can do run the same scheme as Lamar Jackson, which is a credit to Huntley. He’s quick and gets the ball out or gets turned upfield in a hurry. He doesn’t buy time and try to play hero ball, he simply goes out and hurries it up and is willing to put it on the line to win the football game.
Things that feel uneasy about Huntley includes his accuracy. His interception against the Broncos wasn’t due to a great read, but a poor decision and poor throw. He also doesn’t appear to throw the ball deep. He had, I believe, the shortest yards per attempt on Sunday and it’s a consistent theme.
Momentum is huge in the NFL, and teams want to be playing their best football at the end of the season. What are the Ravens doing well right now, and what needs improved if they want to make a deep run in the postseason?
The offense must finish drives and find plays that get them in the end zone. You cannot trot out your kicker three-plus times after failing to score a touchdown and expect to win football games.
The rushing attack has to be able to bulldoze anybody. This is a run-first team. Yes, some squads will be more difficult to run against but when you build an offense specifically to run on anybody and everybody, it must produce.
At the time of this writing, the Steelers are 2.5-point favorites, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, at home. What do you think of the spread, and how do you see this game playing out at Acrisure Stadium??
I think the spread makes sense. The Ravens are the underdog, especially with Huntley as their starter. But, it’s going to be a close battle, as they tend to be, with both teams leaning on their defense and run game.
I think if Ronnie Stanley plays this could be a Ravens victory. But, if Stanley isn’t there protecting Huntley, I can’t imagine a way they escape hostile territory with a victory down their franchise quarterback and left tackle.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for their Week 14 game vs. the Ravens this Sunday in Pittsburgh, PA.