NFL Wednesday Afternoon Football: Steelers/Ravens Preview

by Big Al Staff

Wednesday Afternoon Football on NBC features a rematch of AFC North rivals.

Pittsburgh won the first meeting between these two teams on November 1st with their 28-24 upset victory in Baltimore as a 4-point underdog. The Steelers forced four turnovers in that game, including an interception returned for a touchdown in the opening minute of the game. Yet Pittsburgh went into halftime with a 17-7 deficit before scoring the next two touchdowns en route to pulling the upset.

The Steelers’ +3 net turnover margin obscured them being outgained by a 457-221 yardage margin. The Ravens controlled the time of possession for over 35 minutes of this game while running the ball 47 times for 265 yards. Ben Roethlisberger engineered the winning rally midway through the fourth quarter that culminated in an 8-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool at the 7:29 minute mark.

Baltimore has lost three of their last four games in a stretch that started with that setback to the Steelers. The Ravens have lost two games in a row after they failed to avenge their playoff loss to Tennessee on Sunday in a 30-24 upset loss at home in overtime as a 6-point favorite. Baltimore blew a 21-10 second-half lead to Tennessee in that game, but criticism of their collapse went on the back burner given the news that began this week.

Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins all tested positive for COVID last week, which will keep them out for this game. Defensive tackle Brandon Williams is also quarantining given close contact to both players. He will not be available to play, although an injury kept him out of the Tennessee game last week.

The Ravens will rely on Gus Edwards and Justice Hill as their primary running backs, with Dobbins and Ingram unavailable. Injuries have already hit head coach John Harbaugh’s team with All-Pro left tackle, Ronnie Stanley, out the year with an ankle injury and defensive end Calais Campbell out indefinitely with a calf injury.

Pittsburgh has the opportunity to eliminate their arch-rivals from the AFC North title hunt. Another Baltimore loss drops their record to 6-6. The Steelers remained unbeaten in ten games on Sunday with their 27-3 win in Jacksonville as an 11-point favorite.

The Steel Curtain defense limited the Jaguars to only 206 yards in that game while intercepting rookie quarterback Jake Luton four times. Pittsburgh ranks fourth in the NFL by allowing 306.9 yards-per-game, and the 4.94 yards-per-play they are giving up is the second-best defensive mark in the league. The Steelers have 21 takeaways as well, which is the most in the NFL, and their +12 net turnover margin is also tops in the league.

Pittsburgh goes into this game in relatively good shape on the health front, though James Conner will miss the game due to COVID. Cornerback Joe Haden is questionable with a knee injury. Wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster is listed as probable with a toe injury that kept him out of several practices in the run-up to this contest.

Baltimore seems backed in a corner for this game. The previous time that Harbaugh’s team had lost two straight games was September of last season. BetAnySports lists Pittsburgh as a 10-point favorite with the total set at 42. Kickoff is shortly after 3:40 PM ET.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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