Following a two-game skid, the Ravens will look to bounce back as they go into Pittsburgh to take on the 1-3 Steelers. The rivalry lacks the luster of past seasons as familiar faces such as Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger and Terrell Suggs will not be taking the field. It will be a chance for the young players to carve out their own place in the rivalry as this is a crucial game for both teams at this point in the season.
The Ravens are coming off a brutal 40-25 home loss to the Browns while the Steelers crushed the Bengals on Monday Night Football following an 0-3 start to the season. In 2018, they split the season series 1-1 with both teams winning on the road. The Ravens open as 3.5-point road favorites with a total O/U of 44 points. The weather calls for clouds and sporadic rain showers with a high of 75 degrees and 40% chance of showers.
ATS (Against the spread)
Ravens -3.5 (+100)
Despite the glaring issues on the defensive side of the ball, the Ravens offense has been a bright spot and driving force for the team early on. Boasting the No. 1 ranked unit in the NFL, the Ravens are averaging 482.5 YPG, 33.7 PPG and 205.8 rushing yards per game, all tops in the league. This will be the first time the Steelers go up against Lamar Jackson, who was the backup to Flacco for both meetings in 2018. Jackson is a nightmare to gameplan for as he can beat you multiple ways, and the Steelers will have their hands full with the diversity of the Ravens offense.
Teams facing Jackson for the first time are a combined record of 1-8, proving how tough it is to put together a game plan for him. Fellow second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph will also be making his debut in the rivalry after putting together an impressive performance against the Bengals. The Steelers did a nice job of putting together a game plan for him which focused on high percentage throws, resulting in him going 24/28 while only averaging 8.2 yards per throw. The Ravens defense is reeling but going against a first-year starter might be just what they need to get back on track. Rudolph will be forced to stretch the field more than he did against the Bengals, opening opportunities for the Ravens defense to force turnovers.
Look for Baltimore to establish the ground game early against a Steelers defense allowing 122.8 yards per game, ranking 22nd in the league. This will open the rest of the field for Jackson to take his usual shots with the threat of using his legs to produce fireworks. The Ravens defense has been highly criticized but will use this game to come together in a get right match up against a quarterback making only his third start. The health of James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster will be under a close microscope leading up to game time as the absence of either should move the line further in the Ravens favor.
Prediction: Ravens 27, Steelers 13
Marquise Brown total receiving yards: Over 62.5 (-108)
After a scorching start to his rookie campaign, Hollywood Brown has come back down to earth a bit. The passing game has not been firing on all cylinders, playing from behind the last two games. This has forced Jackson into some uncomfortable throws and the Ravens to stray from the gameplan. Prior to a rough Week 4 performance, Brown had averaged 94 receiving yards on nine targets per game due including a team-high 25% target share.
These numbers suggest he is primed for a bounce-back performance, as he is seeing a high target share and going against a Steelers’ secondary that leaves much to be desired. The Ravens’ offensive line has been playing at a high level and should give Jackson plenty of time to get into a rhythm throwing the football. Brown will get his first taste of this bitter rivalry and should have ample opportunity to make a big impact.
Mason Rudolph total passing touchdowns: Under 1.5 (-166)
Mason Rudolph total passing yards: Under 239.5 (-112)
The Ravens pass defense has been torched thus far in the 2019 season and the front seven has not made life tough on opposing quarterbacks. Despite allowing three straight 300-yard passers and two straight 500 total yard performances, I’m expecting a big bounce-back week for the unit. There’s nothing like facing a quarterback in his third start to cure your woes and pin your ears back to make the afternoon miserable for them.
The Steelers will likely deploy a similar game plan to week 4 with short, high percentage throws and not ask Rudolph to beat them with his arm. Although the numbers don’t back it up, the Ravens defense will prove to be a much stiffer test than the Bengals and they are now a unit with a lot to prove. This will be a gut test for the defense and with proud veterans such as Earl Thomas facing heavy criticism, expect a long day for Rudolph passing the football.
Mark Ingram total rushing yards: Over 65.5 (-112)
The Ravens enter this game as the #1 rushing offense in the entire NFL, averaging 206 yards per game. Both Jackson and Ingram are averaging at least six yards per attempt and despite playing from behind in Week 4, the Ravens were able to accumulate 173 rushing yards. At this point, Ingram is game script proof and the Ravens know they must establish the ground game to give Jackson opportunities through the air.
The Steelers run defense was a big issue in the first three games before bouncing back and holding the Bengals to only 70 rushing yards last week. They currently rank 22nd in the league allowing 122.8 yards per game and the Ravens will look to Ingram to control time of possession and limit the amount the defense is on the field. In his first game of the rivalry, Ingram’s fierce style of play and nasty attitude will be a welcome addition to a Ravens team that has gone 1-4 over the last five meetings.
Week 4 Recap
Browns +7 (-110): WIN
Over 45 points (+100): WIN
Winning Margin: Ravens by 1-13 points (+140): LOSS
Baker Mayfield total passing yards: Over 257.5 (-108): WIN
Lamar Jackson total rushing yards: Over 49.5 (-118): WIN
Season record: 14-6 (70%)