After 60 minutes, the only stat that matters in the NFL is the score. With the Ravens playing the Steelers, there's often very little to separate these two divisional rivals. We won't know the final score until later Sunday night, but here's a few numbers that stuck out to me in anticipation for the matchup that both teams circle on their calendars each year once the schedule is released.
Too Close For Comfort:
The last three times the Ravens have traveled to Pittsburgh, the score differential has been three (3) points. With final scores being 23-20, 13-10, and 19-16 - if you have fingernails before Sunday's kickoff, you likely won't afterwards. This just isn't the story the last three times the teams have played, in fact, 10 of the last 13 games between these two teams have been decided by three (3) points or less.
Two of the Ravens three losses this season have come at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals, causing them to be swept for the season series. However, the Ravens have a chance for a little sweeping of their own against the Steelers.
If the Ravens are victorious on Sunday, it'll be their third series sweep of the Steelers in franchise history. The other times the Ravens broke out the broom were in 2006 and 2011.
Margin of Victory/Defeat
Regardless of by how many points, losing sucks. However, during the three losses for the Ravens this year, they've at least kept it close. With an average margin of defeat at 5.67 points, the Ravens are the second-best team in the league when it comes to close defeats. For the sake of comparison, the Philadelphia Eagles have only lost twice and it has been an average of 4.5 points.
Not all games are stressful for Ravens fans though. When the Ravens are doing well, they're typically hammering their opponents. The Ravens are also the second-best for margin of victory, besting their opponents during their five wins by an average of 20.6 points. The only team better than the Ravens are the Atlanta Falcons, with an 22.5 point average, but they've only won two games this season.
Suggs Sack Celebration?
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has embarrassed many defenses throughout his career, but there's one player specifically that has had a tremendous amount of success against him. Throughout Terrell Suggs' career, he's posted a total of 98 sacks, 16.5 coming against Roethlisberger.
Here's to hoping that Suggs can celebrate his 100th in Steeltown in front of a national audience.
Two Separate Two-Headded Monsters
The backfields for the Ravens and Steelers have been stellar this season. The Ravens and Steelers have run games that are almost identical, with the Ravens having the NFL's eighth-best rush attack with 128.4 YPG and the Steelers one spot behind them at 127.1 YPG.
Both feature backs, are gaining as much as five yards per carry. Ravens running back Justin Forsett averages 5.5 YPC and Le'Veon Bell is nearly at five yards per carry with a 4.9 mark. Bell has 691 yards on the season, while Forsett is 571.
The backups are also very similar, with the scoring edge going to the Ravens. Ravens rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro has four touchdowns on the season, whereas LeGarrette Blount only has two. Both runners are similar in yardage, with Taliaferro rushing for 226 yards (4.4 YPC) and Blount at 243 yards (4.9 YPC).
The Ravens quarterback has been stellar in his past eight match ups against the Steelers. Flacco has a 10:1 ratio for touchdowns to interceptions. In these close games, turnovers are everything and by Flacco not giving away the football, it keeps these games close.
Steelers Have The Offensive Edge
The Steelers are the NFL's third-ranked offense (418.3 YPG), whereas the Ravens are ninth (375.5 YPG). Ben Roethlisberger has 2,380 yards on the season, passing for 16 touchdowns and three interceptions. Joe Flacco has 2,049 yards, 14 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.
Steve Smith Sr. has been amazing this season, but he's overshadowed when compared to Antonio Brown. Smith's 675 yards on 41 catches have been amazing, but you have to tip your hat at Brown who has 60 catches on the season, for 852 yards.
Le'Veon Bell (691 yards / 4.9 average) is outrushing Justin Forsett by 120 yards.
The Steelers do lead the NFL in a category that they'd rather not be. Having been flagged 73 times this season, they lead the NFL in penalties. Fortunately, the Ravens have been pretty disciplined this season, only receiving 45 flags, which is seventh-fewest in the league.
For more Ravens news and information, follow me on Twitter @RavenManiac