Steelers Week is upon is… sorta? Kinda? I mean, it’s here but it surely doesn’t have the same appeal to me as previous years… I’m far more focused on how the Ravens can end their losing skid than the fact that we’re playing the Steelers. After all, 3-2 with a 1-1 division record feels a million times better than 2-3 with an 0-2 AFCN record, and we need to keep our eyes on the end game here, not just the opponent!
Alas, this is Steelers Week, so we’ll focus today’s 2-minute drill entirely on these two teams and the matchup ahead.
Around The Rivalry
-Lamar Jackson gets Yinz up in their feels. Leave it to Steelers fans to get upset about this quote from LJ:
“They play that little song, and they wave their little flags and stuff, with the little towels around. It was pretty dope. I enjoyed it. I did, I really did.”
You should see how many Pittsburgh fans are mad online about their towels. Never mind the fact that Lamar called the experience in their stadium ‘dope.’ These Steelers fans simply defend their ‘little flags’ the same way they defend their drama queen QB – with blind animosity to any naysayers.
-Mason Rudolph focusing on JuJu.
In a recent interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Steelers QB Mason Rudolph discussed a need to focus on getting the ball to JuJu Smith-Schuster. Rudolph pointed out that he’s “Got to get the ball to your best players, and that’s something you look forward to every week in the game plan, so it’s just an emphasis on my end.” I’m not 100% sure young Mason is aware of Marlon Humphrey but after seeing Hump manhandle (literally) Odell Beckham Jr last week? I think Rudolph’s smartest move will be to throw away from JuJu, not at him…
-“We hate them.”
Speaking to the media earlier this week, Pernell McPhee didn’t mince words when speaking of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry after eight games played as a Raven in this matchup. “We hate each other. I mean, I know for sure that we hate them.” I’m pretty sure when McPhee says ‘we’ he’s also including all of the Flockers across the globe, who cannot tolerate the incessant history channel narrative while waving little yellow flags and supporting the goon-like ways of Joey Porter, James Harrison, and Hines Ward over the years. Thanks, Pernell!
Last Week: Ravens offense 24 Ravens defense -40
Whatever, it’s over with, and we’ll get our revenge later this season…
THIS WEEK: Ravens (-3.5) @ Yinz
Where to start with this game…
The familiar faces are all a thing of the past. Flacco, Suggs, Ray, Reed, Ngata, Scott… they’re moments in history of this rivalry we’ll never forget. Likewise, Hines, Porter, Harrison, Pola… Polo… the hair guy are all gone too. Big Ben remains the one remnant of this rivalry’s past to remain on a squad, but he’ll be sidelined with tennis elbow or whatever joke you’d like to insert here. This game isn’t on National TV, so I wonder if he’ll be as certain to be front and center for the cameras…
Big Ben just realised they never plugged in his headset he thougt he was doing a grownup important job which is just precious pic.twitter.com/Ca57cNeiho
— PFTCommenter (@PFTCommenter) October 1, 2019
With all of the usual suspects, enemies, and villains out of the way, Sunday will be a means for a new generation of Ravens and Steelers to make their presence known and continue the mutual respect and animosity that comes with the Baltimore-Pittsburgh rivalry. Lamar Jackson will have a chance to slice and dice the Steelers defense and leave their fans hating him the same way they hated Joe Flacco. Mason Rudolph could find himself picking apart the Ravens secondary that’s given up ungodly amounts of yards the past three weeks, and becoming the air to the Big Ben throne in this rivalry. Then again, maybe we see Hollywood Brown streaking down the sideline on a great catch with Mike Tomlin ‘accidentally’ stepping into his path on the field of play…
Perhaps it’s going to be a defender making a big play… could Jaylon Ferguson finally find the backfield, and bring home an iconic Ravens sack against Pittsburgh? Maybe Earl Thomas plants his name firmly into the history of these two franchises with a huge pick-6? Could Peanut Onwausor do his best Bart Scott impression?
Only time will tell, but come Sunday we’ll likely have both new heroes and new villains that will live on in the infamy of this bitter rivalry between the Ravens and Steelers…
Oh, so my prediction.
Lamar Jackson is going to have a field day with both his arm and his legs. 270 yards through the air, with a pair of touchdown passes and 0 turnovers to rebound from last week. With Skura likely out, the line may be shakier than usual, but I think Lamar’s mobility will help him buy time and find his open man. This day will be all about Hollywood and Andrews through the air, as each rope in a touchdown and 80+ yards on the day, with Brown doing some work in the YAC department.
On the ground, Lamar will skate for another 70 yards and a score, matched by Mark Ingram with a similar stat line.
Defensively, I expect improvement from the Ravens, but not perfection. Smith-Schuster will be back, but will he be 100% after missing most of the week? James Conner hasn’t practiced all week, nor has Vance McDonald, and both are now expected to play after full participation today.
This game will come down to the Ravens shoring up their communication, assignments, and pressures. With Brandon Williams back in the fold, there’s a huge boost for the run D, and I have a feeling the secondary will come together once again. We’ll see 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns from Rudolph, but we’ll also see a pair of picks to kill a few drives early and put the Ravens offense in great position to score and widen the gap in the second half. Add a trio sacks by Matt Judon, Peanut Onwausor and Tony Jefferson, and this game will end close… but in the Ravens favor.
BAL 31 PIT 23
Rest of the Slate
I’m not even listing 1pm games this week, because how dare you even consider flipping to another game during a commercial break and risk missing any action?
Pack @ Cowboys (-3.5) Sunday 10/6 @ 4:25pm. Two of the top NFC teams go head to head, coming off their first losses of the season. Dallas’ D has been getting hot, while the offense cooled last week. Green Bay’s offense is getting hot while their defense cooled last week. Who rebounds? Who falls to 3-2? I’m here for it.
Colts @ Chiefs (-11) SNF 10/6 @ 8:20pm. The Chiefs needed a last minute effort from the offense in Detroit last week to remain undefeated, now head back to Arrowhead to take on the 2-2 Colts. I don’t think the question is whether or not the Colts can win, but if the Chiefs can cover… I’ll be bold and say the won’t. 34-24.
Browns @ 49ers (-4) MNF 10/7 @ 8:15pm. The 49ers are a surprising 3-0, coming off a bye week and hosting the Browns in Cali. The Browns haven’t had Jarvis Landry all week, and OBJ/Freddie Kitchens are still whining about being owned by Marlon Humphrey last week. I hope the 9ers bring them back down to earth in embarrassing fashion.
After a devastating past 2 weeks as a Ravens fan, and understanding that the allure of this matchup Sunday has lost some luster, I think I have the perfect Top-5 to get you hyped for Sundays rivalry between the Ravens and Steelers…
Top 5 Ravens-Yinz Rivalry Moments
5- Scoreboard Watching, Towel Dropping.
While this wasn’t necessarily ‘in’ the rivalry game, this moment will live on in infamy, as the Steelers and their fans witnessed C.J. Mosley’s game-ending pick of Baker Mayfield, effectively eliminating the Steelers from playoff contention in Week 17 of the 2018 season… say, why aren’t the fans waving their little flags?
4- Flacco to Torrey FTW.
With the Ravens down 4 to Pittsburgh in the final seconds, Joe Flacco hit rookie wideout Torrey Smith for the game-winning touchdown with 8 seconds left. This play effectively silenced Heinz Field to the point that you could hear their little flags hit the ground…
3- Sizzle’s knee-pick.
This was the sexiest interception you’ll ever see from an outside linebacker, and surely not the first time Ben’s balls ended up between the wrong knees… (not even sorry for that one).
2-Bens Nose Is Ngata Straight.
I think my favorite thing about this play was hearing Cris Collinsworst whining and crying about how the hit was so illegal and should’ve been called. Yanno what CC should use to wipe those tears off his face? You got it – one of Yinz little flags..
Find me a better sack in this rivalry. Go on and try. You can’t (until Sunday?).
Honorable mention: Jarret Johnson blowing up Hines Ward, TJ Whos-Yo-Momma game-winning touchdown, Ray Lewis breaking Rashard Mendenhall‘s shoulder after Mendenhall foolishly texted Ray Rice to gloat that he’d have a huge game against Baltimore’s defense.