The Baltimore Ravens have one of the best chances this week to turn a severely disappointing season into something not quite as bad. Having beaten the Pittsburgh Steelers back in week 4, a sweep of their hated AFC North rival would add a little flavor to a rather bland and disgusting season. Better yet is that the Ravens have a shot to all but knock the Steelers from the playoff race with a win, as most of their playoff hopes rely on winning out and other teams falling.
Let's just dive into the Steelers and see what has changed since they last met in early October.
Steelers are limping
We have talked a lot about how hurt the Baltimore Ravens are this season and they are without a doubt the champions of the injured reserve list in 2015. But the Pittsburgh Steelers are seriously hurting themselves as well with 11 players on injured reserve.
They are missing their starting kicker Shaun Suisham, center Maurkice Pouncey, and All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell. While not quite the hit to the starting lineup as the Ravens, all of these players mean a great deal to the Steelers. At the least we know that not having their starting kicker cost them a game, the one against the Ravens.
Antonio Brown is on pace for his best season
You can argue if Antonio Brown is the best or just in the top-2, but that is as far down as he goes with any football fan that isn't living under a rock. Yet for as good as Brown has been over the years, he is looking like he'll have a career year. All of this despite missing franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for 5 starts this season and trying to catch Michael Vick's footballs.
Browns best year saw him catch and average of 8.06 passes for 106.13 yards per game. This season, his pace is set at 8.29 passes and 113.29 yards per game. Unless he gets hurt, he'll end the season with 1813 yards on 133 passes. That would position him as third all-time, right behind Calvin Johnson and Jerry Rice... yeah, he's that good.
Defense is still suspect
That's not to say it's bad, but that it has it's weaknesses if you have the personnel and gameplan to exploit them, which is key for the Ravens this week.
On Sunday, the Steelers let the Denver Broncos hang 27 points on them, all in the first half. While you might think that the Broncos have a great offense, you'd be mistaken. In fact, their offensive ranks hover around the same spot, with the Ravens being much better at getting yards (14th to 22nd) and only slightly worse at points (20.9 to 22).
The great thing for the Ravens is that the Steelers defense gives up the second most yards through the air with 279.1 per game, something the Ravens have excelled at this year (8th overall). If the Ravens can push the ball into the endzone or hit on the big plays, they might have a serious shot at not only keeping the game close, but possibly winning it.