The division-leading Baltimore Ravens will travel to face the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday in the latest installment of the classic rivalry. The Ravens will be without quarterback Lamar Jackson as they look to get their first victory over the Steelers since 2019. What will be some of the key matchups that help decide Sunday’s outcome?
T.J. Watt vs. Morgan Moses
Outside linebacker T.J. Watt is listed as questionable to play this week with a rib injury. Outside of Jackson, Watt may be the biggest domino in determining how this game will pan out. The reigning AP Defensive Player of the Year has left his mark on this rivalry already and will be looking to continue that if he suits up on Sunday.
Since Watt primarily lines up against right tackles, he will face the veteran Morgan Moses for much of the day. Sunday will be Moses’ introduction to playing against Pittsburgh as a member of the purple and black, and Watt will perhaps be his toughest test of the season.
Backup quarterback Tyler Huntley has a proclivity for getting the ball out quickly, which should help Moses in pass protection. With left tackle Ronnie Stanley expected to return this week, offensive coordinator Greg Roman should be able to afford to lend more help to Moses’ side to help slow Watt down.
George Pickens vs. Marcus Peters
Rookie wide receiver George Pickens has already made it abundantly clear that he wants the football coming in his direction. The Georgia receiver garnered a reputation for his alpha mentality in college that has so far carried over into the NFL. On Sunday, Pickens will face off against another alpha personality in cornerback Marcus Peters. While Peters has experienced a turbulent season after returning from a torn ACL, the 29-year-old still exudes the personality that quickly made him a fan favorite in Baltimore.
Pickens has spent more time lining up on the right side of the formation this season, which is where Peters normally plays in the Ravens’ defense. Peters will surely be looking to pull off one of his old tricks against rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, but he will have to be careful when gambling against a playmaker such as Pickens. Pickens presents an advantage in contested catch situations as well due to his size and acrobatic ability at the catch point.
Cameron Heyward vs. Ben Powers
Watt is not the only elite pass rusher the Steelers have. Defensive tackle Cameron Heyward has long been one of the league’s best defensive linemen and has given the Ravens quite a few problems over the years. Left guard Ben Powers should see plenty of Heyward on Sunday. Powers won the left guard battle this offseason and has yet to look back, as he currently has PFF’s highest pass-blocking grade among guards this season. Meanwhile, Heyward has accumulated 36 pressures and five sacks from the interior this season, according to PFF.
With Moses and Stanley dealing with Watt and Alex Highsmith on the edges, it is imperative that the interior of Baltimore’s offensive line holds up their end of the bargain to protect Huntley and to allow any semblance of a passing game.