clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ravens News 12/9: Rivalry Preview and more

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

With QB Lamar Jackson sidelined, the Ravens’ margin for error is thin. Tyler Huntley’s used to that. - Jonas Shaffer

The Ravens’ backup quarterback has played in only 11 games since arriving in 2020, but in that time he has become well acquainted with the slimmest of margins, and what separates winning and losing by them. In Week 11 last year, Huntley and the Ravens beat the Chicago Bears by a field goal. In Week 14 and Week 16, they lost to the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams, respectively, by a point. Their season ended in Week 18 on a field goal by the Steelers.

As Huntley prepares to make his fifth career start Sunday in Pittsburgh (5-7), filling in for injured starter Lamar Jackson, the Ravens’ offense suddenly finds itself in a position its new quarterback can understand. With defenses tying up their ground game and Huntley leading a conservative passing game, the Ravens (8-4) have almost no margin for error.

The offense Huntley will likely lead Sunday is different from the one he inherited after Jackson suffered a season-ending ankle injury last December. There are still questions at running back, where injuries and inconsistency have shaken up the depth chart, and there’s still reliable production at tight end. But elsewhere, offensive strengths and weaknesses have seemingly flipped.

With left tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) practicing fully Wednesday, the Ravens could have their preferred offensive line starting together again inside Acrisure Stadium, a group considered one of the NFL’s best and a far cry from the injury-depleted, cobbled-together unit that struggled for stretches last season.

But with wide receiver Rashod Bateman’s season ended by a Lisfranc (foot) injury and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown traded to the Arizona Cardinals this offseason, Huntley won’t have the firepower out wide he enjoyed in 2021.

Previewing the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens Week 14 showdown - Jeff Hartman

When it comes to NFL rivalries, the Steelers and Ravens would be at, or near, the top of the list. The two divisional rivals have had some of the most contested, and bloody, games in recent memory.

Lamar Jackson, who’s status for the Week 14 game is unknown with a knee injury, and Kenny Pickett are now the quarterbacks charged with taking the reins of this rivalry. Defensively you have T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward battling it out with the Ravens running attack of Gus Edwards, Kenyan Drake and Justice Hill.

It might not have the same ring to it, but this game has serious significance for both teams. The Ravens are just trying to stay ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals (-5.5) in the AFC North standings, while the Steelers are hoping to inject themselves back into the conversation. The game being in Pittsburgh is big, and so is the fact the Steelers haven’t lost to Baltimore since 2019.

NFL Week 14 Picks and Predictions Including Lock and Upset of the Week - Adam H. Beasley

Pittsburgh’s defense is a different group with the return of T.J. Watt, ranking ninth in EPA per play in his four weeks back. Plus, Steelers rookie Kenny Pickett has started to figure things out. He hasn’t thrown a pick in his last four games after throwing eight in his first five.

But he isn’t really taking many chances, either. Pickett ranks 24th in air yards per completion (5.2). Accordingly, the Steelers have scored just 106 points in their five wins — which probably won’t be enough against the Ravens, even with Tyler Huntley under center.

Lamar Jackson is unlikely to play with a knee injury, and Huntley needed 32 attempts to total 187 passing yards. But we expect a full week of preparation to help. The Ravens are built to run, regardless of which quarterback is playing.

Plus, Baltimore’s defense has been much improved, allowing just 95 points over the last six games (five of which were Baltimore wins).

Ravens 20, Steelers 18

Week 14 NFL game picks: Brock Purdy-led 49ers beat Tom Brady’s Buccaneers; red-hot Lions top Vikings - Gregg Rosenthal

Pittsburgh Steelers 19

Baltimore Ravens 16

These are not your September Steelers. Since the team’s Week 9 bye, Pittsburgh is 12th in overall efficiency, second in rushing and seventh in defense. A favorable schedule has helped the D — and that continues with Tyler Huntley likely to start for the Ravens.

Huntley can play, but can the Ravens’ offensive line? Can their wide receivers get open? Lamar Jackson was struggling to cover up the team’s holes, and while Baltimore’s defense can slow down Najee Harris, Kenny Pickett has good options to throw to.

NFL picks against the spread - Vic Tafur

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Ravens would have covered the spread last week despite Lamar Jackson’s injury if not for a ridiculous WR option pass into quadruple coverage in the end zone. Tyler Huntley did engineer a game-winning drive, and the shift in the point spread for this one does indicate the drop-off from Jackson to him:

The Ravens offense since 2021 with Jackson: 44.1 percent success rate, 41.1 percent third down conversion rate, 7.24 YPA, 33.9 percent first down rate on pass attempts.

The Ravens offense with Huntley: 41.6 percent success rate, 32.1 percent third down conversion rate, 5.74 YPA, 28.5 percent first down rate on pass attempts.

Huntley, like Jackson, can make plays with his legs, and that should deter Alex Highsmith and the Steelers pass rush from being too aggressive. The Ravens defense has to step up and should be able to contain Steelers RB Najee Harris and put the game in rookie QB Kenny Pickett’s hands. He has been average thus far, but I might take Huntley over him. In fact, I am.

The pick: Ravens +2.5

Week 14 NFL Picks Against the Spread - Sheil Kapadia

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5)

Mike Tomlin can’t do it again, can he? We all know that he’s never had a losing season in 15 years as the Steelers head coach. A month ago, it felt certain that this would be the year. But now the Steelers have won three of four and are 5-7. They get the Ravens twice, the Panthers, the Raiders, and the Browns in their final five games. The odds are against Tomlin keeping the streak intact, but it’s not over just yet.

The Ravens are expected to have to go with Tyler Huntley in place of Lamar Jackson (knee injury) this week. Huntley has looked competent in the past, but all season long, it’s felt like Jackson has had to put the offense on his back. There’s a chance this gets ugly for Baltimore, depending on how much time Jackson misses.

The Steelers are a mediocre team at best, and the Ravens pretty much always have an edge on special teams. Their defense should be able to get to Kenny Pickett. I think Huntley is capable of doing enough for the upset here.

The pick: Ravens (+2.5)