The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for their 2022 regular season Week 17 game with a trip to Baltimore, MD to play the Ravens.
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 has been anything but dynamic without Lamar Jackson in the lineup. While his availability for this prime time game is uncertain, how confident is the fan base as the Ravens head back to the playoffs?
If Lamar Jackson is not on the field in the playoffs, the fanbase does not believe there is a chance of victory. It’s hard to blame them, either. The offense, which already struggled with Jackson, loses a dimension of playmaking when he’s inactive. Tyler Huntley is a capable backup, but he’s not capable of replacing the former MVP.
As a whole, the fanbase has expressed a great deal of frustration and concern for the future. In the short-term, they’re waiting for Jackson to return and are worried he’ll be entering rusty with fewer weapons than when he left. The playoffs are a grind for this team and there’s overboiled frustration with Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman. It’s a lot of negativity right now.
The Steelers fan base was split when they found out the Week 17 game between these two rivals had been flexed to Sunday Night Football. How do the Ravens do at home in prime time? Were fans excited, or upset?
The Ravens have the NFL’s best record in home primetime games in the John Harbaugh era (2008), with a 19-2 record (.905). For reference, the Seattle Seahawks have the second best record, at 23-6 (.793).
Ravens fans love primetime, but they love it a lot more when it’s not displaying their lethargic offense that’s struggled to find the end zone over the past month.
Many have talked about how these rivals “respect” each other. In the early 2000s, there might have been respect, but it wasn’t shown. What are your thoughts on the vitriol in this rivalry? Has it calmed since the likes of Ed Reed, Hines Ward, Ray Lewis and Troy Polamalu? Or does it just look different?
An edge was lost as both teams saw their Hall of Famers exit and retire. I mean, how could it be the same when you go back and read quotes from those guys, and especially Terrell Suggs. From a Ravens perspective, there hasn’t been as noteworthy a quote in this rivalry since 2011 when Suggs said, “Big Ben, you know he’s a great quarterback. God can have his soul, but his ass belongs to me.”
I’m sure there are great quotes from the Pittsburgh side of things but there hasn’t been the same vitriol. That doesn’t mean it’s not a violent football game each time they square off, but things change. How could they not when both teams watched some of the best players of all time retire and move on?
When the Ravens have struggled, what have been the factors which resulted in their failures both on offense and defense?
On offense, it’s when the Ravens get away from their run game. The offensive line and the running backs are among the NFL’s best. Going away from them to diversify the offense and try to avoid being one dimensional puts them in holes. Suddenly it’s 2nd & 8, and rather than try to run they go for a pass with their backup quarterback that falls incomplete and puts them in 3rd & long situations rather than 3rd & short or a first down from a strong run by running backs Gus Edwards or J.K. Dobbins. Their lone touchdown drive over the past few games had 11-straight rushing plays before two passes. That’s not a coincidence.
Defensively, injuries tend to foreshadow issues with the Ravens defense, and namely ones in the secondary. I said it last time before this matchup with you but the games tend to go with how cornerback Marlon Humphrey plays. Strikingly that was wrong in the last matchup, as Humphrey had an uncharacteristically bad game, allowing multiple big-time plays from rookie wide receiver George Pickens, but the Ravens clutched in the red zone. I’ll stick by what I said in that injuries in the secondary are what matter most, and coming up second is the pass rush. The Ravens pass rush hasn’t shown consistently lately and that will be important to pressure the rookie quarterback and avoid issue.
The Steelers are currently 2.5-point underdogs, via the DraftKings Sportsbook, on the road in Baltimore this Sunday night. How do you see this game playing out? Is the spread where it should be, or do you think it should be different?
Home teams tend to get a three-point bump and the Ravens match up well against this Steelers team. I think Ravens -2.5 is reasonable, especially with their home primetime record. If Jackson were playing, I’d maybe move it another point but I think this line adds up rightly.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for their Week 17 game vs. the Ravens this Sunday in Baltimore.