Countdown to Kickoff, Ravens vs. Steelers
10 – 9: Ben Roethlisberger’s record in his career against the Ravens. There was a time when the Ravens in the Harbaugh/Flacco era could only beat the Steelers if a back up quarterback took Big Ben’s place. But Baltimore has narrowed the gap in recent years and look to erase Roethlisberger’s winning record against them.
8: Completed passes by Joe Flacco in week 3 in London. Unacceptable is an understatement. He was benched in the 4th quarter facing a 44-point deficit. No one did him any favors. The offense line was a turnstile. Receivers left their hands on this side of the Atlantic. His 12.0 QB rating for the game is the worst of his career. His Total QBR was 0.5 Also the worst. His previous worst effort was in the 2012 game in Houston where he had a 1.7. That was the worst game in the Harbaugh/Flacco era until last week.
7: As in the number Ben Roethlisberger wears. He represents the first top flight quarterback the Ravens defense will face in 2017. The Baltimore defense has feasted on middle of the road Andy Dalton, both young Deshone Kizer and Kevin Hogan in the home opener. Last week against Blake Bortles…we’ll just try to forget about that one. Ben and the “Killer B’s”, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, will be the toughest test the Ravens defense have faced to date.
6: Inches was the difference in winning and losing in week 16 a year ago. A win and the Ravens control their destiny for a playoff spot. The 6 inches won the game, sealed the division for Pittsburgh, and sealed the Ravens fate of missing the postseason. That one had to sting for a long time. That sting should be turned into emotion exerted on the Steelers to make sure this one doesn’t come down to a matter of inches.
5: Number of completions Jimmy Smith has allowed in his direction through three games this season. QBs have only targeted him 12 times and on the five catches receivers have turned it into a mere 52 yards. Jimmy Smith’s QB Rating allowed is 20.1 Can you say, “shutdown corner”? There are a lot of important players on this defense and the team has faced a lot of injuries. Jimmy Smith might be the most important player on the defense to keep healthy. The battle between he and Antonio Brown might be a good one to keep an eye on. Defenders are going to need to know where #84 is at all times anyway.
4: The Ravens have beaten the Steelers 4 straight times at M&T Bank Stadium.
3: Depending on the publication, the Steelers are a 3-point favorite. 12 of the last 18 matchups between the two teams have been decided by 3 points or less. If the line slides to -3.5, -4 for the Steelers, Might worth placing a bet on the Ravens to cover.
2: Wins by both the Ravens and Steelers. Pittsburgh could have put some distance between them and the Ravens after watching Baltimore get beatdown in the morning before the rest of the league kicked off. But they struggled against inferior talent in their road game at the Chicago Bears, losing in overtime. First place in the AFC North is on the line here, and this is as close to a must win game as you can have this early in the season. According to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI), a Baltimore win would mean the difference between a 42.3 percent and an 11.8 percent chance of being crowned the division champs. For Pittsburgh, a win would make the Steelers an 87.1 percent favorite to win the AFC North, and a 56.1 percent favorite with a loss. Huge swings for both sides there with Cincy and Cleveland stumbling out of the gate.
1: Number of catches made by Breshad Perriman in 2017. The term “bust” is starting to get tossed around, and rightfully so. As 1st round pick you expect more production from at this point, even is this his is pseudo second season having missed his entire rookie year with the knee injury. The Browns Corey Coleman had the best receiving game against the Steelers defense thus far. 5 receptions, 53 yards and a score. I don’t expect Perriman to make this Sunday his overdue coming out party.