To the Ravens news...
In all seriousness, the 7-5 Ravens have positioned themselves for the No. 6 seed by winning four of their last five games. They’ve done it with a combination of stifling defense, excellent special teams, and a solid ground game. They’ve also not beaten a team with a winning record while teeing off on a bunch of backup quarterbacks. The best that can be said about their own quarterback, the maybe-once-elite Super Bowl winner Joe Flacco, is that he had a very good game last week against the Detroit Lions. That’s the 2017 Ravens: You’ll just barely notice.
Health has been a key ingredient for the line, which has employed the same formation of left tackle Ronnie Stanley, left guard James Hurst, center Ryan Jensen, right guard Matt Skura and Howard for four of the past five games. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said that group has developed chemistry.
“It starts up front,” he said. “In fact, I was looking back at earlier in the year at a couple games, and we’re an awful lot better up front just from the reps and the fellows working together. So I think that’s a good point there, and it starts up front.”
The run defense isn’t too shabby either, allowing 3.9 yards per carry (ninth best). The Ravens rush defense had some issues for a five-game stretch early in the season when nose tackle Brandon Williams was out. Since he’s been back, the Ravens haven’t allowed more than 78 rushing yards in a game.
The Ravens have the most interceptions in the NFL (20), and they’re fifth in red zone defense. They’re first in turnover differential and +73 in point differential. Lastly, the Ravens have only allowed 400 yards once this season, against the Jaguars in London. The defense is beastly.
The Ravens are 4-1 in their past five visits to Pittsburgh, the only loss coming on Antonio Brown's "Immaculate Extension" last Christmas.
"Look, this game means something," Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco said. "They are pretty set up (for the playoffs), to be honest with you, with their record. But it still has a lot of implications for us and even for them at the top of the AFC at this point. It is a game that has meant a lot pretty much every time we played it since I can remember."
Ravens receiver Mike Wallace broke into the league with the Steelers, so he's been on both sides of this rivalry.
Asked how he felt about the Ravens when he was with Pittsburgh, Wallace replied, "Hate! Hate! It was hate. But it was respect, too."