The Steelers have won six of their last seven against the Ravens, and will look to make it seven of eight in Week 18.
Ahead of the season finale, we sat down with Kyle Barber of Baltimore Beatdown to get answers and insight from these five questions.
1. A lot of starters being rested this week? How aggressive do you expect John Harbaugh to be as a whole?
Escaping this game healthy is the sole priority for this club. Yes, they’d like to defeat the Steelers in the process, as Tomlin & Co. have defeated them far more than any other club during the Lamar Jackson era, but the priority is not on Week 18 for the team after clinching the AFC. I expect Harbaugh and the team to force feed guys like Melvin Gordon III carries in the sleet/snow expected weather and hope that’s enough to get out of Saturday with few injuries and focus on their true goal.
2. What do you expect from Tyler Huntley in his first start since last January?
I’m highly curious to see how Huntley performs. We haven’t seen much of Huntley this season, for good reason. He did throw a touchdown pass on Sunday against the Dolphins that showed he can be effective in a last-minute blowout, ha.
Truly, though, I’m curious to see. Like I mentioned, I don’t expect to see many passing situations for this offense. Huntley may throw 20-25 times, but mostly I expect a few short throws, some play-action rollouts to a tight end and if I had to guess, two deep shots. But otherwise, this is going to be a game manager game from their Pro Bowl backup.
3. Who is an under the radar offensive skill position player could you see having a nice day?
Look for Charlie Kolar to get involved. He sits as the No. 3 tight end, and he’s a rock-solid No. 2 on most other teams. The problem is, he sits behind a top three tight end in Mark Andrews and then Isaiah Likely, who has put up 291 yards and four touchdowns in the past five games without Andrews. Kolar, meanwhile, has grinded in the No. 3 role and slowly shown growth. He has one catch in each of the past three games, all for first downs, and his latest being a 19-yard touchdown in the blowout victory. Maybe with Huntley starting, their chemistry will show.
4. Are Ravens fans more scared of Mason Rudolph or Kenny Pickett?
I don’t think there is great concern for either. Not out of being cocky, but it hasn’t felt like quarterbacks are the threat against the Ravens since Ben Roethlisberger left. It’s been more about the playmakers surrounding them. Like George Pickens, who gashes Marlon Humphrey at least once per game for a deep shot. Or by the rushing attack that barrels for more than 100-yards in a contest.
Going off the numbers, Pickett has been more successful. He’s 2-1 against Baltimore, throwing for 392 yards and two touchdowns, with zero interceptions. They haven’t forced Pickett into mistakes, other than him holding the ball too long. But, Pickett’s completion percentage against the Ravens is a paltry 55%.
Rudolph has lost his sole contest against the Ravens, going 13-for-20 passing with one touchdown and 131 yards. He’s only been sacked once, too. There’s no true upside with either.
Like I said, the quarterbacks haven’t been the danger to the Ravens. It’s been the combination of their running backs, receivers, tight ends and defense that defeat the Ravens. Their biggest playmakers have stepped up when it matters.
5. DraftKings has the over/under set at 34.5- where do you sit with that?
Something like an 18-15 final would not surprise me. The Ravens defense, even their depth, can get things done. We saw so against the Dolphins, where the Ravens secondary was without safety Kyle Hamilton and cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Stephens. They had their final cornerbacks dressed for the game going against Miami and still forced punts and mistakes. So, moving the ball for either team won’t be simple. I’ll take the under. Especially factoring in what could be a bad-weather affair.