By Danny Cox
In Pittsburgh, the Steelers are still trying to get past a lot of injuries that have severely hampered their forward progress this season. Fortunately, they are in a division that is really having an off year. The Cincinnati Bengals are 3-4-1. The Cleveland Browns have lost their first eight games of the season. Then, there are the Baltimore Ravens, their opponents in Week 9 and losers of four in a row.
On an interesting note, though, the winner of Sunday’s game between the Steelers and Ravens will take over possession of the lead in the AFC North.
Baltimore Ravens’ Season Record: 3-4
Things started out promising in 2016 for the Ravens as they began the season at 3-0 and looked like they would be playoff bound once again. Since then, it has been a downhill slide as they have lost four in a row and look like a shadow of anything that coach John Harbaugh has developed in past years. With two divisional games coming up (Steelers and then Browns), the Ravens do not want the losing streak to continue or their season will be over with in a hurry.
Ravens On Offense
The Ravens don’t score a whole lot of points and surely don’t find the endzone often. Quarterback Joe Flacco has just five touchdowns this season while throwing six interceptions on top of it. In the running game, Terrence West has two touchdowns on the ground and Flacco has run in for two more, so it isn’t as if they are lighting up the scoreboard.
Pass protection is also something that is severely lacking for the Ravens and it shows in the fact that Flacco has been sacked 15 times in seven games this season. If the Steelers’ secondary can take control of Mike Wallace and Dennis Pitta, their defensive front should be able to have a field day.
Ravens On Defense
Baltimore has a bit more success on defense, but not a lot. They have eight interceptions this season and five forced fumbles, but they’ve only recovered one of them. It has been hard for them to stop anyone really this season, and the Steelers truly have the weapons needed to light things up and take advantage of a weak Ravens’ defense.
The thing is, the secondary of the Ravens has a lot of talent with Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith and Eric Weddle, but the run isn’t being stopped which opens up holes in the passing defense. Weddle is the second leading tackler on the team and Shareece Wright is a good player as well. If the Steelers know what is good for them, they will work at getting Le’Veon Bell a lot of carries and look for his yardage to open up the passing game more.
Ravens Players To Watch: WR Steve Smith Jr. and LB C.J. Mosley
Steve Smith Jr. really wasn’t expected back this season, but he did choose to return for at least one more year and it’s not working out so well for him. Aside from the team playing so badly, he’s on pace for one of the lowest yardage totals in a single season of his career, and he only has one touchdown so far as well. The thing is, he’s tricky and can surprise defensive second and he will need to be watched all day or he’ll be in the endzone before anyone realizes it.
Linebacker C.J. Mosley has dealt with some injuries this season, but he is still playing extremely well and is expected to be back on the field against the Ravens. He’s extraordinarily quick off the snap and knows where the ball is at all times, which is how he has already snagged three interceptions this season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers held their own against the New England Patriots and knew how to slow down Tom Brady, but there just wasn’t enough firepower to vault over the Pats’ defense. Baltimore is a different kind of beast than the Patriots and by that, we mean not as good. It’s been a mess of a season in Baltimore and if the Steelers play like they’re truly capable of playing, it shouldn’t be a rather difficult victory to achieve.
Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 27 – Baltimore Ravens 13
Post Author: Danny Cox.