Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic
In three career starts against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jackson has completed just 59 percent of his pass attempts, posted a paltry 67.4 quarterback rating, thrown six interceptions compared to just four touchdown passes, fumbled six times (losing two of them) and gotten sacked 16 times.
When asked about his struggles against Pittsburgh Wednesday, Jackson didn’t have an explanation, nor did he seem particularly concerned.
“I’ve probably played the Steelers three times,” Jackson said. “I don’t think I’ve played my best against them yet, but I don’t know. We’re going to see Sunday.”
Pittsburgh hasn’t played particularly well defensively this season, entering Sunday ranked 30th in yards allowed per game (403.0) and 23rd in points per game (25.0). But just about all of these Ravens-Steelers matchups tend to be close, hard-fought games where the offenses have to battle for every inch and turnovers play a big role in deciding the winner.
“You talk about what kind of team that they are. The defensive front is obviously physical, tough, all those things you expect from a Pittsburgh defense,” Ravens tight end Mark Andrews said. “At the end of the day, when you have two teams like this, and you have that rivalry, it’s something that you always have to bring your lunch (pail) because it’s a tough game. No matter if the team is doing really well or not, it’s going to be a good game.”
Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun
Ravens running game vs. Steelers run defense
The Steelers are off to a subpar start in this area, ranking 29th in run defense and allowing 4.7 yards per carry. The San Francisco 49ers ran for 188 yards against them in the season opener, and the Browns added 198 in Week 2. Pittsburgh misses defensive end Cameron Heyward, who’s on injured reserve. It doesn’t have a dominant interior run defender, and linebackers Kwon Alexander and Cole Holcomb have graded as merely decent, according to Pro Football Focus.
Steelers running game vs. Ravens run defense
The Steelers haven’t run well either, averaging just 3.6 yards per carry and ranking 31st in rush DVOA. Najee Harris (210 yards on 49 carries) remains their top option, while Jaylen Warren is a greater threat to catch passes out of the backfield. Pickett and Trubisky move well, though neither is a high-volume running threat, Pickett’s bruised knee could limit him even if he plays.
These teams played a 16-14 game and a 16-13 game last season, reminding us that it’s folly to pick a blowout either way in this rivalry. That said, the Ravens have the better quarterback, the better defense, better results against common opponents and a chance to build on their AFC North lead. They won’t allow Pittsburgh’s offense to get going and will turn to their running game to secure a rugged victory. Ravens 23, Steelers 16
Ryan Mink, BaltimoreRavens.com
“We know what this game means to us as a franchise and as a team. No one takes it lightly. We’re trying to get as much firepower out there as possible,” Stanley said.
The strength of the Steelers defense is at edge rusher. T.J. Watt, who lines up over the right tackle, is tied for the league lead with 6.0 sacks so far. On the other side is Alex Highsmith, who has just 1.0 sack so far this season but logged 14.5 last year.
Stanley said he and the Ravens’ medical staff were trying to get him back on the field last week for the game in Cleveland but it “just wasn’t there yet.” He gave it a try with back-to-back limited practices last week.
The Ravens offensive line has been buoyed by veteran Patrick Mekari at left tackle for the past three games. When Morgan Moses went down with a shoulder injury midway through last week’s game, Daniel Faalele and Mekari were the Ravens’ offensive tackles against another fearsome pass rushing duo in Myles Garrett and Za’Darius Smith, and they made it work.
Baltimore got more good news Thursday when Moses returned to the field for practice.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports
Steelers (+4.5) vs. Ravens
Gross, gross, gross. The Steelers have been terrible, particularly on offense, thanks to Matt Canada.
If the Steelers don’t gain 400 yards this week, they’ll be FORTY GAMES without doing it. And maybe they hit that milestone. There’s a chance this is a Mitch Trubisky-led team given the Kenny Pickett injury situation, although it appears Pickett is preparing to play. Regardless, Canada is under such insane fire, he has to basically unleash the kitchen sink in a massive home rivalry game. No one wants to back the Steelers here at all right now, the Ravens look much better, no doubt. But this is the AFC North’s ugliest battle and it usually ends up inside three points, so I’m willing to take that gamble.
Sheil Kapadia, The Ringer
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (+4)
The Ravens’ win over the Browns last week had very little to do with the offensive coordinator change from Greg Roman to Todd Monken. It had everything to do with Lamar Jackson, who was doing Lamar Jackson things. He created with his arm and legs to make enough plays out of structure against a tough Browns defense.
The Ravens have faced backup quarterbacks in back-to-back weeks. As of this writing, it’s unclear if it’ll be three in a row. Kenny Pickett is dealing with a left knee injury, but he said he expects to play in this game. The Steelers offense has been maybe the toughest watch in the NFL through four weeks. They rank dead last in offensive success rate.
On paper, this should be Ravens all the way. But I trust Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin too much in a spot like this—home underdog coming off of an embarrassing loss. I don’t know how the Steelers will do it, but give me the points.
The pick: Steelers (+4)