After earning a victory against the Broncos in Week 3, the Ravens focus now shifts to an important divisional matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens-Steelers rivalry is well-documented, and Sunday night could yet again be a classic.
The Steelers finally got in the win column last week, surviving a Buccaneers comeback effort in the fourth quarter to earn a 30-27 victory. They will surely be motivated to make a statement on national television and gain ground in the AFC North.
As seen in the past, winning at Heinz Field is no easy task. The Ravens will need contributions across the board to escape with a win.
Offensive stat predictions
Joe Flacco, QB - 27/42, 64.2% comp, 291 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Flacco is off to one of the better starts of his career. He has thrown for six touchdowns and nearly 900 yards through three games, with a completion percentage of 63.9%. It has been encouraging to see him click with receivers early on.
Now, Flacco faces a Steelers group that ranks 28th in the NFL in pass defense this season. Pittsburgh was gashed by Patrick Mahomes and Ryan Fitzpatrick in consecutive weeks, with the latter throwing for 411 passing yards against the Steelers in Week 3.
Flacco has had mixed performances against the Steelers in recent years, especially on the road. However, this is a struggling secondary, and Flacco should be able to find success through the air.
Alex Collins, RB - 16 rushes, 60 yards, 3.8 YPC / 2 receptions, 16 yards
It has been tough sledding for Alex Collins this season, and fans are still waiting on a breakthrough performance form the running game. Last week was a step in the right direction, as Collins rushed for a season-high 68 yards and a touchdown.
Collins is averaging 3.4 yards per carry through three games, which leaves much to be desired and is a far cry from last season. This reflects on the offensive line, which has not done a great job of opening up holes in the backfield.
While the Steelers rush defense is not great statistically, they have talented players on the defensive line in T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree and Cameron Heyward. Unless the line gets more push, it is hard to envision Collins having a big game.
Javorius Allen, RB - 5 rushes, 13 yards, 1 TD / 5 receptions, 32 yards
After scoring two touchdowns in Week 3, Allen now leads Baltimore with four touchdowns on the season. Three have come on the ground and the other via receiving. Can he replicate this performance on Sunday night? Probably not.
However, Allen is getting plenty of scoring opportunities, and he has made the most of them. When the Ravens have been in goal-line situations this season, it is Allen, not Collins, who usually gets the call.
In a potentially high scoring affair, Allen could see the field a lot in passing situations. Look for him to record several catches and find the end zone for the fourth consecutive game.
Michael Crabtree, WR - 5 catches, 54 yards, 10.8 YPC, 1 TD
Crabtree has been steady so far this season. Last week, he recorded a season-high in both receptions (seven) and yards (61). He did not record a reception in the second half, but it was a solid performance nonetheless.
Crabtree has been a bit overshadowed by John Brown thus far, but his contributions as a possession receiver have been valuable.
As long as Flacco continues to look his way and sling the ball with accuracy, another productive outing should be in store for Crabtree. Look for him to catch a touchdown as well, which he has not done since Week 1.
John Brown, WR - 5 catches, 78 yards, 15.6 YPC, 1 TD
Brown is tied for 20th in the league with 222 receiving yards this year, and his yards per catch average of 18.5 ranks 11th. Simply put, he has been the main catalyst in the passing game this season for Joe Flacco.
He also leads the Ravens in receiving touchdowns (two). He could have three if not for a dropped pass in the end zone against the Bengals in Week 2. Can Brown keep it rolling this week? With a favorable matchup at hand, there is certainly a good chance. Look for Brown to put up another solid stat line.
Willie Snead IV, WR - 4 catches, 42 yards, 10.5 YPC
As the number three option in the passing game, the potential for a big stat line is not there for Willie Snead. However, he has quietly thrived in his role as a complimentary playmaker and slot receiver.
He has twelve receptions on the year, the same number as John Brown. When Flacco targets the middle of the field, particularly on slant routes, Snead has been the guy he looks for.
Mark Andrews, TE - 3 catches, 51 yards, 17.0 YPC
Andrews is a player on the rise, and he has serious potential as a pass-catcher. Against the Broncos last week, he made two highlight plays, including hurdling over two defenders on a catch-and-run.
Can Andrews remain involved with Hayden Hurst returning? It is hard to imagine him going anywhere, as the Steelers have had difficulty stopping tight ends this season.
Pittsburgh was shredded by Travis Kelce and O.J. Howard in consecutive weeks. While Andrews is not on their level, he should be able to make an impact in the passing game.
Hayden Hurst, TE - 2 catches, 18 yards, 9.0 YPC
While his status is up in the air, Hurst proclaimed he’s “good to go” and feels ready to make his debut.
If he does indeed play, it is hard to envision him making a big splash early. With three other tight ends on the roster, the Ravens will likely ease Hurst into the action. Still, it will be encouraging to see how he looks in his first taste of regular season play.
Defensive stat predictions
Tackles - C.J. Mosley (9), Kenny Young (7), Tony Jefferson (7)
The return of Mosley will be a big boost for the Ravens defense. Kenny Young has done enough to earn the starting linebacker spot opposite him, and those two should form a dynamic tandem.
Tony Jefferson will be important in slowing down James Conner and the Steelers tight ends Vance McDonald and Jesse James.
Sacks - Terrell Suggs (2), Za’Darius Smith (1)
Suggs has a history of playing well against Pittsburgh, and he is always motivated to make life difficult for Ben Roethlisberger. Za’Darius Smith will look to duplicate his solid performance from last week against Denver when he sacked Case Keenum.