Updated: Dec 1, 2020
For the third straight week, the Steelers are playing an opponent with either one loss or undefeated at the time of playing. They had a tough and physical down to the wire, 27-24, win against the then-undefeated Titans last week and now they'll have to play a 5-1 Ravens team who are coming off their bye week in Baltimore. The Steelers-Ravens rivalry is the best in the NFL and the contests are always close. Since 2007, Mike Tomlin's first season as the Steelers' head coach, the Steelers and Ravens have had 20 once-score games and 14 games decided by three points or less. This Sunday's game in Baltimore should be no different.
- The Steelers are 28-24 all-time against the Ravens, a series that began in 1996 when Art Modell moved the original Browns to Baltimore. The Steelers are 14-15 (including playoffs) under Tomlin against the Ravens and are 5-8 when playing in Baltimore. Ben Roethlisberger is 15-11 (including playoffs) against the Ravens in his career and is 4-6 when playing in Baltimore. Including when Roethlisberger came in the third quarter for an injured Tommy Maddox in Week 2 against the Ravens in 2004, he is 242 of 417 (58.0) for 2,613 yards, 11 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and has a quarterback rating of 72.4 when playing in Baltimore. Roethlisberger's 280 yards passing in Week 1 of the 2011 season against the Ravens was the most he has ever thrown for in Baltimore, a game in which the Steelers lost, 35-7. Roethlisberger has also been sacked 30 times against the Ravens on the road, an average of three times per game.
- Since 1999, the Steelers and Ravens are split even at 23-23 against each other. In those 46 meetings, the Steelers have averaged 19.5 points per game and the Ravens have averaged 20.3 points per game. That illustrates just how competitive this rivalry is.
- Since 2008, when John Harbaugh was named the Ravens' head coach, Baltimore is 10-2 in their next game after a bye week and they are 7-1 at home.
- Tomlin and Harbaugh will meet against each other for the 25th time in the regular season on Sunday, which is the most for two head coaches in the Super Bowl era, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Tomlin is 11-13 against Harbaugh in the regular season but is 2-1 against him in the playoffs.
- Via Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, according to Elias Sports Bureau, the Steelers three-game stretch (Browns, Titans and Ravens) is the first time since 2004 a team will play three consecutive games against teams with one or fewer losses this far into a season (Week 6 or later). The Patriots played the Seahawks (3-1), Jets (5-0) and Steelers (5-1) on Weeks 6-8. The Patriots won their first two games but lost to the Steelers, 34-20, at Heinz Field.
- The Steelers are 6-0 for the first time since 1978 and they can match the 1978's team record 7-0 start with a win over the Ravens. In that 1978 season, the Steelers went on to beat the Cowboys, 35-31, in Super Bowl XIII. The Ravens are 5-1 for the third time in franchise history, the two previous times were in 2000 and 2012 -- both seasons which ended with Baltimore winning the Super Bowl.
- The Steelers are 4.5-point underdogs against the Ravens on Sunday and the over/under for the game is 46.5 points, according to Oddsshark.com. It's the second time this season that the Steelers have been underdogs going into a contest. Last week they were 1.5-point underdogs against the Titans. The Steelers are 8-2 against the spread in its last 10 road games as an underdog and the Ravens are 5-12 against the spread in its last 17 games as a home favorite, per Oddsshark.com. The total has gone under in five of Pittsburgh's last six games when playing on the road against Baltimore.
- To no surprise based on these two teams' history, the Steelers and Ravens both have one of the top defenses in the league this year. The Steelers rank first in yards allowed per game (286.3) and the Ravens are No. 1 in points allowed per game (17.3). They also both have impressive streaks going into this game. The Steelers have recorded a sack in 63 straight games. The NFL record is set at 69, which was accomplished by the Buccaneers from 1999 to 2003. The Ravens have forced a turnover in 19 straight games, which is the longest active streak in the league, according to Jamison Hensley on ESPN. During that span, Baltimore has scored an NFL-best eight defensive touchdowns.
- Both these teams love to get after the quarterback and are not afraid to bring the house. The Ravens rank first in the league in blitz percentage at 47.2% and the Steelers are not far behind ranking second at 42.7%. Roethlisberger is getting the ball out faster than anyone in the league right now at 2.29 seconds, he also has the highest completion percentage (70.5%), second-most touchdowns (7) and third-best rating (133) vs. the blitz this season, according to Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network.
- The Steelers rank first in the league in sacks with 26 through six games and the Ravens are tied for fifth with 22 sacks. Like any Steelers-Ravens game, it will take players on both sides awhile to recover from the bumps and bruises that they'll endure. No one knows that more than Roethlisberger who's taken his share of big hits against the Ravens. The shot that Bart Scott delivered to Roethlisberger in 2006 is the most notable hit that he has taken against Baltimore, but Roethlisberger also got clubbed in the nose by Haloti Ngata in 2010, which resulted in Roethlisberger playing through the rest of the game with a broken nose.
"It’s tough. It’s a physical one, it can be nasty at times," Roethlisberger said on Wednesday in his Zoom interview with the media. "But I’ve always felt, as much as my nose has been broken, we’ve had injuries, a close game, it’s always been football in its truest form in the sense that it’s never been dirty, it’s never been nasty. It’s just been hard-nosed football. This is one you always want your bye week to be after."
- Lamar Jackson is not having a season like he did last year when he was named the league MVP, but he's still a dynamic player with the ball in his hands and a handful for defenses to stop. Jackson is at the center of the Ravens' rushing attack that leads the league in rushing, averaging 164.3 yards per game. Jackson averages a league-high 6.9 yards per carry, rushing for 346 yards on 50 carries and two touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns were big runs by Jackson -- one going for 50 yards against Washington in Week 5 and the other being a 37-yard touchdown against the Eagles in Week 6. The Steelers rank second in run defense, allowing just 68.8 yards per game. The Steelers' defense must have solid containment on Jackson by being disciplined in their rush lanes and gap assignments because if there's one mishap, it's off to the races for the reigning MVP.
"It's misdirection, it's also his talent," Cam Heyward said of Jackson. He's very explosive, but I think the thing that really helps out a lot is they have an extra blocker now. Most of these teams, when they handoff to the running back the quarterback's not a blocker so you already eliminate him from the play. In this scheme they have, they have their big fullback, they have some other wide receivers willing to block and so it becomes an 11-man rush. Guys have got to get off blocks, guys have got to make tackles because if you don't that dude's going to hit you for a big one."
All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is also wary of how dangerous Jackson can be.
"He is a very elusive guy," Minkah Fitzpatrick said Thursday in a Zoom interview with the media. "He is bigger than what people expect. He is a strong guy, a competitor, he runs tough, he will lower his shoulder on DBs and linebackers."
- Along with Jackson, the Ravens have three solid running backs in Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins. However, Ingram is doubtful for Sunday's game with an ankle injury and did not practice all week. Edwards is second in carries among the running backs with 48 touches for 218 yards (4.5 average) and a touchdown. Rookie J.K. Dobbins has rushed for 154 yards on 25 carries (6.2 average) and two touchdowns through six games.
- In the passing game, the Ravens have not put up big numbers. They rank 31st in passing yards per game (177.8), ahead of just the Jets. Jackson ranks 26th in completion percentage (63.0%) and his quarterback rating is a little bit better than average at 14th (99.2). He does have a solid quarterback/interception ratio at 10-2, though. Wide receiver Marquise Brown and tight end Mark Andrews are Jackson's favorite targets and they both lead the team in receptions and yards. Brown has 26 receptions for 376 yards (14.5 average) and a touchdown, while Andrews has 20 receptions for 243 yards (12.2 average) and five touchdowns. The Steelers rank sixth in pass defense this year, allowing 217.5 yards per game.
- The Ravens rank third in turnover differential this year at plus-6 with 11 takeaways and five giveaway. Of the 11 takeaways, eight have been forced fumbles, which leads the league. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey is responsible for four of the eight forced fumbles. Humphrey's four forced fumbles are tied for first in the league. Humphrey's most famous forced fumble in his career was when he punched the ball out from JuJu Smith-Schuster in last year's Week 5 meeting. Humphrey recovered the loose ball and four plays later Justin Tucker made a game-winning 46-yard field goal to give the Ravens a 26-23 win in overtime.
The Steelers rank 14th in turnover differential this year at plus-2 with nine takeaways and seven giveaways. Pittsburgh was tied for the fourth-best turnover differential in the league at plus-five prior to Week 7 but had a minus-3 performance against the Titans.
- The Ravens rank sixth in opponent third-down conversion percentage this year, allowing teams to convert at 34.67%. Much like the Titans, the Ravens struggle in red zone defense, ranking 30th and allowing teams to score touchdowns at a 76.92% rate. The Steelers rank third in third-down conversion percentage, converting at 51.09%. In red zone offense, the Steelers rank 15th in scoring touchdowns at 62.50%.
- Both the Steelers and Ravens are top five in sacks this year, Pittsburgh having the most in the league with 26. The Ravens' offensive line has allowed 15 sacks this season, but their two tackles -- Ronnie Stanley at left tackle and Orlando Brown Jr. at right tackle -- have not allowed a sack all year, according to Pro Football Focus. T.J. Watt (5.5) and Bud Dupree (5.0) have combined for 10.5 sacks this year. Watt will be lined up over Brown and Dupree will go up against Stanley.
The Steelers' offensive line has allowed just eight sacks this year, which is tied for the second-fewest in the league. The Ravens are tied for fifth in sacks with 22. Veteran defensive end Calais Campbell, who was acquired through a trade this offseason, leads Baltimore in sacks with four. During their bye week, the Ravens traded a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick to the Vikings for edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue. The Ravens now have a solid pass-rush duo with Ngakoue and Matthew Judon. Ngakoue, 25, had five sacks in six games with the Vikings this year up until being traded. Ngakoue was drafted by the Jaguars in the third round out of Maryland in the 2016 NFL Draft and has 42.5 career sacks. Ngakoue was traded to the Vikings for a 2021 second-round pick and a conditional fifth-round pick in August of this year.
- Chris Wormley (knee), Jordan Dangerfield (quadriceps) and Ulysees Gilbert III (back) have all been ruled out for Sunday's game. With Gilbert out, Marcus Allen is expected to replace him and get snaps at inside linebacker, especially in passing situations.
The Steelers announced on Saturday that they've placed Wormley on injured reserve. Wormely suffered a knee injury against the Titans last week. In a corresponding move, the team activated Trey Edmunds to the 53-man roster. Antoine Brooks Jr. and Jayrone Elliott also have been elevated to the 53-man roster from the practice squad.
Mike Hilton (shoulder) and Derek Watt (hamstring) are both listed as questionable for Sunday. Hilton did not practice on Wednesday and has been a limited participant for the last two days. Watt was a full participant on Wednesday and also has been limited in the last two practices. While Hilton is listed as questionable, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported last night that the Steelers are hopeful but not expecting Hilton to play against the Ravens.
For the Ravens, Ingram (ankle) is listed as doubtful for Sunday as he didn't practice all week. Defensive back Anthony Levine Sr. (abdomen) and cornerback Jimmy Smith (Achilles) are listed as questionable, both were limited in practice today.