Photo Courtesy: USA Today

Ravens Gear up for Rival Steelers

September 25, 2018 - 10:34 am
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By Austin Medina  

After three weeks, thoughts on the Ravens have changed a number of times.

The Ravens (2-1) appeared dominant in their 47-3 blowout win over the Bills in Week 1. On the flipside, many questioned praising a team that beat down on Nathan Peterman.

The following week, the Ravens played on a Thursday night primetime game in Cincinnati and came out flat. After a hard fought comeback, the Bengals held on to win the game 34-23. The city gates were open, as the Ravens were labeled as inferior in the AFC North.

When it seemingly could not get any stranger, the Ravens came back this Sunday and destroyed the Denver Broncos 27-14. The Ravens offense looked back on track, being able to neutralize the Von Miller and the vaunted Denver pass rush.

A similar point could be made about the Ravens next opponent, the Steelers (1-1-1). The long-tenured rival opened the season tying the Browns, who were winless last season. (For the record, the Browns aren’t the same team from last season. They added offensive talent and have a respectable defense.)

In Week 2, the high-powered offense of Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs bombarded Pittsburgh. (Mahomes is an early MVP candidate.) Monday night, the Steelers almost blew a three-possession to the much improved, Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Bucs.

All of this sets the stage for two teams, who have had two entirely different starts to the season. With 13 games left on the season, both teams could trend either way, making this game a statement game.

Of course whenever the Ravens play the Steelers, playoff implications and bragging rights are on the line. The Ravens defense (albeit without CJ Mosely) will need to contain the explosive Steelers formula.

The Ravens have at least one advantage already. The Steelers will seemingly be without star running back Le’veon Bell. Bell has decided to sit-out this season, awaiting a new contract extension. The Steelers do have James Conner, who has exceled in Bell’s absence.

Why is this an advantage?

Conner is a one-cut back, who isn’t extremely lethal in the passing game like Bell. Conner has 15 catches for 139 yards, though these stats are inflated due to the Steelers being in absolute shootouts with Kansas City and Tampa Bay. Both opponents aren’t known for their defensive acumen, like the Ravens.

The Ravens shouldn’t struggle with Conner. Containing Antonio Brown will prove difficult, as he is a mismatch against every team in the league. Though with a similar formula from last week, the Ravens could use time possession and tough defense to edge out a win.