(KDKA)- The Steelers are 6-0 for the first time since 1978 and for just the second time in franchise history. The defense ranks second in Football Outsiders’ efficiency metric, DVOA. The offense, with Ben Roethlisberger back under center, is averaging over 30 points per game, sixth in the league.
Yet, despite all of that, NFL on CBS play by play man Ian Eagle thinks the team can reach another, even higher gear.
“I don’t even think we’ve seen them at their best. We have not seen major splash plays yet from the Steelers. That’s still in their arsenal and at some point, they’re going to hit on those. They have been very controlled in how they run their offense,” said Eagle in an interview with CBS Local’s Ryan Mayer. “I just think Ben is playing some of the best football of his career. Despite a couple of mistakes last week, I just feel like his presence in that lineup gives them this real genuine feeling that they could win the whole thing.”
That point rings true. The Steelers are 26th in the league in passes of 20+ yards (16) and tied for dead last in the league in passes of 40+ yards (1). They’ve been more explosive in the running game, ranking fourth in 20+ yard runs (8) and fourth in 40+ yard runs (2). But, the point remains. With potentially game-breaking receivers like Chase Claypool, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Diontae Johnson, the team certainly doesn’t lack for weapons.
“They have so many weapons the Steelers, that’s what really stands out to me. You look around the league, they can go toe to toe with anybody in terms of offensive options,” said Eagle. “The way that Ben Roethlisberger has spread it around, the play calls of Randy Fichtner, they have worked in unison. The right buttons have been pushed.”
The hope is that the right buttons will continue to be pushed this Sunday when they head to Baltimore to face their bitter rival, the Ravens. Baltimore’s defense has been one of the league’s strongest at preventing just those kinds of plays this year. And, coming off a bye, the Ravens just added a new pass rusher to the mix in Yannick Ngakoue, who was acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings.
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But, the Ravens offense, unlike the Steelers, has had plenty of questions asked about it in the early stages of the season. After an historic year, Eagle says comparing them to last year is unfair, but still points out the Ravens receiving corps “leaves something to be desired.”
In last year’s matchup, the Steelers were able to make Lamar Jackson uncomfortable, sacking him five times and forcing him into three interceptions. While the Week 5 bout ended with the Ravens on top, the Steelers were missing Ben Roethlisberger at the time. Which means this Sunday marks the first time Big Ben and Jackson will duel against each other.
Despite their perfect record and an offense and defense that is clicking, the Steelers are four point underdogs, just the sixth time in NFL history that a 6-0 or better team has entered a game as a four or more point underdog.
Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time from M&T Bank Stadium on CBS.