James Harrison. Rookie Left Tackle.
Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe will not play in Saturday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, meaning someone who presumably is worse than Eugene Monroe will look to stop Steelers right outside linebacker James Harrison - the guy who's two sacks and constant pressure, one forcing an interception in the first half. For whatever match-up advantage the Ravens get with the absence of running back Le'Veon Bell it may be undone by the lack of adequate blindside support on quarterback Joe Flacco.
Yanda Moving Out
The Ravens' experiment with rookie James Hurst at right tackle was bad enough in the absence of Rick Wagner they needed to move All Pro right guard Marshal Yanda to right tackle. Then they moved Hurst to left tackle. Ahem. See above. Yanda is easily one of the league's best offensive linemen, and while Jason Worilds will certainly have his hands full, it frees up the Steelers' best pass rusher, Cameron Heyward, in the A-gap. Right guard will presumably be handled by John Urshel, a rookie fifth-round pick. Heyward should like his match-up there.
The Ravens are likely going to want to establish the run and let that set the tone for this game. They are going to make a play or two in the passing game, but to whatever level of offensive success they'll have, their big play ability has been drastically reduced over the past few games. A talented and efficient offense has stalled out, and an inconsistent and timid version of it has returned. The Steelers can be the more physical of the two defenses, realize Baltimore's offense will do a thing or two here and there, but ultimately, they can get the combination of punts and takeaways they'll need to keep Baltimore off the scoreboard - magic number is five, four punts and a takeaway.
Torrey Doesn't Like the Grass
Unfortunately for one-dimensional receiver Torrey Smith, it will be a slower track for him tonight. That may contribute to Baltimore's lessened level of explosion - Pittsburgh's as well - but the short cross along with legal picks is about all else he can do. He's not particularly physical, he doesn't have great hands, and if he loses a step due to the rain, he's not going to make himself a factor in the game. The Steelers must respect the fact the Ravens are always looking to get the ball deep down the field if they have the opportunity (see the game in Week 9, the Steelers tried a safety blitz, leaving Brice McCain with Smith 1-on-1 and Smith burned him). But they can take the vertical game away from Torrey Smith.
Different, Not Dead, Offense
This offense didn't achieve what it did simply through the presence of Le'Veon Bell. An excellent player, the offense just simply isn't as good without him. But the Ravens haven't seen a Bell-less Steelers offense in a very long time. The Steelers were different across the board the last time they played a game without Bell. The Steelers have the element of surprise working in their favor. Expect them to show slip screens and wide, short throws early, but they will utilize tight end Heath Miller as well as a stable of running backs to create possession offense. As soon as something off movement can be set up (look for Martavis Bryant), they will get the ball deep outside the numbers.