The Ravens host their archrivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Week 18 showdown that could determine a wildcard participant if either teams gets a massive amount of help from other teams. The Ravens hope to end a five-game skid and avoid back-to-back seasons of being swept by Pittsburgh.
How will it play out?
Here are the RSR Staff’s Bold Predictions…
This season seems like Groundhog Day and feels as if it has been a struggle in perpetuity. The Ravens are extreme longshots to make it to the postseason dance if they get a massive amount of charitable contributions from other teams across the league. Will it happen?
- Tyler Huntley has been the apple of many eyes around town since taking over for sick/injured Lamar Jackson. His lasting impression this season will not be a good one. He’ll connect with Rashod Bateman on a scoring strike to take the early lead but from there, it will all fall apart. Huntley will be responsible for three turnovers, one of which will be a strip sack, fumble recovery for a TD. T.J. Watt gets the sack while former Raven Chris Wormley picks up the loose ball and makes a house call.
- Speaking of Watt, he’ll break Michael Strahan’s record, setting his own seemingly unreachable mark of 25 sacks on the season after he registers 3 ½ sacks.
- Ben Roethlisberger will chuck it 40+ times but average just 6 yards on his 25 completions. The Ravens pick Ben off once but he’ll have the last word with a fourth quarter scoring strike to Chase Claypool.
- In his final game as a Raven, Brandon Williams will register his first sack since 2019 and it will be the final regular season takedown of Roethlisberger’s career. It will be the only sack the Ravens get.
- The Raiders, Patriots AND Jaguars all do their part but unfortunately the Ravens fall short while the Steelers make their way into the playoffs.
It has been that kind of season!
Steelers 20 Ravens 16
The Steelers are on a short week, coming off an emotional win. Advantage: good guys.
We’re due for a happy Sunday, right? Right??
Unfortunately, it won’t be enough for a playoff berth, as the Colts win in Jacksonville for the first time in nearly a decade.
Oh, and of course T.J. Watt will get his record, the only question is by how much. If he ONLY gets two sacks, I’ll consider it a small victory.
Ravens 27 Steelers 10
In a game that could mean nothing or everything, two hanging-by-a-thread rivals will face off in what appears to be the last game of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s illustrious career. Playoffs be damned, beating Pittsburgh is always a fun sport, and ending the career of Big Ben with a Baltimore-style whipping would be ideal.
But there haven’t been a lot of Baltimore-style whippings this season, particularly as of late.
Still, the Steelers have flaws, too, and they seem to exist at places that benefit the Ravens most. Here are some predictions:
- The Ravens are leaky in pass defense, and are 30th in the league per Football Outsider’s DVOA ratings. Fortunately, the Steelers struggle in the pass game, particularly downfield. The Ravens will hold the Steelers to under 200 yards passing for the day.
- The Steelers really struggle in rush defense, ranking 27th in those same DVOA ratings. The Ravens will take advantage of this, producing more than 170 yards on the ground.
- Marquise Brown gets, not one, but two big gainers of more than 40 yards on the day, going over 130 yards for the game.
- Najee Harris gets more than 80 yards receiving from the backfield, by far leading Pittsburgh’s receivers.
- Chuck Clark records a defensive touchdown for the second straight game.
Ravens 27 Steelers 23
This week has a very different vibe than most Steelers/Ravens weeks. Yes, this is potentially a battle for a playoff spot but realistically, this is a game about pride. The Ravens have lost three in a row to the Steelers and while those games have been marred by COVID issues and injuries, they are still losses. Talk this week has been less about winning and more of, should they lose? Are the ideas of a better draft pick and an easier schedule more important than winning? (Obviously this is fan talk, not team talk).
In what is like the last game for Big Ben, the Ravens want to end this losing streak, possibly set themselves up for the playoffs and send away a loser in his final game.
As of today, this is a game where a lot of players will be out. It appears that the Ravens will be without Lamar, Oweh, Averett, Boyle and the recently IR’ed Ricard. The Steelers have some COVID issues with the main guys being Dionte Johnson, Joe Haden and their starting center. As we know with COVID issues, these things can get worse, so we will have to monitor that situation.
They should have won in Pitt earlier this year but a late game collapse and missed 2 point attempt caused them to get the L. It will probably be an ugly game and the Ravens need to stop the run and run it well but I think they can do that and come out with a win.
We will also see if the expected rain has any effect on the game.
Ravens 20 Steelers 16
Well, here we are. The (likely) end of another Ravens season, and with it the potential last ride in purple for a lot of guys on Sunday. The Steelers come to town with similarly dim playoff hopes, in what is also likely the last game of Ben Roethlisberger’s career. He enters M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday without his top wide receiver Diontae Johnson, who was recently put on the Covid-19 list (edit: now off, 24 hours later). He does, however, come with T.J. Watt, who will be looking to break the NFL single-season sack record. Expect Greg Roman to keep him double, and even triple teamed at times in order to avoid him breaking said record.
Roethlisberger had his proper send-off last week in Pittsburgh, but his final appearance in the league will look much different. The Ravens haven’t won since late November, but not for a lack of effort. The frustration of all those 1-2 point losses (that began against this very team) culminates in a convincing victory, one that sends the Ravens into the off-season feeling a bit better. That is, unless something absolutely miraculous happens all around the league and they sneak into the playoffs. Hey, anything can happen. Right?
Ravens 27 Steelers 13
So there are two schools of thought for how the Ravens should treat this game. The first is that they chalk this last game up as a chance to evaluate some depth talent, and that a loss would be beneficial for Draft position. The second is that Baltimore puts Ben on his wallet and does whatever it takes to hand Pittsburgh a loss to end the year.
I mean, come on, this is Ravens vs Steelers, how else would the guys approach it? They’re going to come out guns blazing, no matter what.
-The Ravens defense forces multiple interceptions for the second game in a row. Constant pressure off the edges puts Ben down on the ground for four sacks. Four reeeeeally hard sacks.
-Nationally, there was a lot of criticism for the Browns in their reluctance to utilize Nick Chubb against a spotty run defense for Pittsburgh. Even shying away from the ground game, though, the Browns put up almost a hundred yards rushing against the Steelers last week. The Ravens don’t make the same mistake and feed Freeman early and often. Freeman tops Chubb’s 58 yards from last week and adds a TD to boot.
-As much as Tyler Huntley might act like this is just another day at the office, this might be the last chance he has to add to his resume as a starter for a while, and he stands to make some serious money in the future. He seizes the opportunity to showcase his talents again with a multi-touchdown game, including one on the ground.
-Mark Andrews needs 141 yards to break the single-season receiving yard record for a tight end. I wish I could tell you he gets there, but I think he ends up just shy. He cracks 100 yards on the day, but it won’t be enough to break the record.
Since this is the Ravens, I do think Pittsburgh somehow keeps the game close, but the Ravens offense puts it away with a late score.
Ravens 31 Steelers 21
With a potential slop-fest on the docket (high chance of rain for gametime), I expect both teams to go heavy on the ground-and-pound approach Sunday, with the Ravens faring slightly better in that regard, outgaining the Steelers on the ground 120 to 80. For Baltimore, Tyler Huntley will account for 60(!) of those rushing yards, while Freeman adds 50 and a score.
Mark Andrews gets to 100 receiving yards, but comes up just shy of the NFL record, while the Raven beef up protection and keep TJ Watt the hell away from Tyler Huntley, ensuring his record comes up just shy as well.
This game will remain close, but Baltimore opens up a two-score lead late in the fourth quarter on a TYLAN WALLACE TOUCHDOWN. Yea. Seriously.
The Ravens close out the game and Ben Roethlisberger’s career with a fitting strip-sack by Justin Houston, and that’s all she wrote. The Ravens finish 9-8, miss the playoffs, but get the 16th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft as a consolation prize.
Ravens 28 Steelers 19