Photo Courtesy: USA Today

Ravens vs. Steelers: 5 Key Matchups to Watch

September 28, 2018 - 11:51 am
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By Joe Schiller

Tavon Young/Brandon Carr vs. JuJu Smith-Schuster

Not Antonio Brown but JuJu Smith-Schuster has been the most dangerous offensive weapon for the Steelers this season. The second-year wide receiver leads the team with 27 receptions for 356 receiving yards and one touchdown. And while working primarily out of the slot, he’ll be matched up against Tavon Young and Brandon Carr.

Smith-Schuster possesses big-play potential – evident in his 13.2 yards per reception average. Unlike the Bills, Bengals, and Broncos, the Steelers have a legitimate one-two punch at receiver and with Humphrey matched up against Antonio Brown, Young and Carr have plenty of work on their hands.

 

Kenny Young vs. James Connor

It seems any passing-catching running back can thrive in this Steelers offense and even without Le’Veon Bell, James Connor is the primary threat the Ravens must focus on. He’s collected over 500 all-purpose yards through three games and in recent matchups against the Steelers, that kind of skill set has hurt the Ravens.

But while his play has been impressive, Connor isn’t Bell and Kenny Young has led the Ravens in tackles throughout the early portions of the season. He’ll likely see consistent playing time alongside C.J. Mosley – who is expected to play on Sunday after missing Week 3 with a bone bruise in his knee. Young’s motor and open field quickness will be needed on Sunday night.

 

Pass Rush vs. Big Ben

Even at 36-years-old, there may not be a harder quarterback to bring down in the pocket than Big Ben. His 6-5, 240-pound frame gives him the rare ability as a quarterback to shake off would-be tacklers and sacks and we’ve seen it happen many times throughout the years of this historic rivalry.

Terrell Suggs and the Ravens’ pass rush bounced back from a disappointing performance against the Bengals, totaling three sacks and nine quarterback hits on Case Keenum. Big Ben is a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, but he’s not invincible. He’s shown the ability to be a turnover prone quarterback late in his career and consistent pressure could lead to opportunities for the Ravens.

 

John Brown vs. Joe Haden

The Steelers defense has been atrocious this season. They're 25th or worse in all major categories, most notably, 28th against the pass – allowing 288 yards per game. That’s good news for a revamped Ravens passing attack, led by John Brown.

Brown has totaled at least 80 yards the past two games and is expected to be matched up against the Steelers No. 1 cornerback in Joe Haden. Given the track record of this defense since the loss of Ryan Shazier, Brown and the receiving core should expect to have a big game.

 

Justin Tucker vs. Chris Boswell

It’s not often a key matchup features kickers but given the nature of this rivalry, a field goal could be the difference. Since 2008, these games have been decided by three points or less 13 times.

Justin Tucker kicked his way to AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors with a standout performance against the Broncos while Chris Boswell has struggled against the Buccaneers. After signing a four-year extension this offseason, he’s 1-for-4 from field goal range and has missed two extra points.

One missed kick could make all the difference.