Welcome to the Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens Preview! This is your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about the Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich of Pittsburgh SportsNation brings you inside the huddle for both teams, provides a game outlook, score prediction, individual stats, team stats, Fantasy Football impact, the most up-to-date injury report, and even the weather at kickoff! The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!
A look at the Pittsburgh Steelers!
Overall Record: 9-5
Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (10th Season with Steelers)
Overall Regular Season Record: 101-57 (.639)
Playoff Record: 6-5 (Qualified for playoffs 6 times)
Last Game: Pittsburgh 24 Cincinnati 20
Breakdown of the Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger hopes to get back on track where he is most comfortable, that being the confines of Heinz Field. Over his career, Roethlisberger is 9-9 against the Ravens with 4,170 passing yards. In those 18 games, he has thrown 28 touchdown passes with 19 interceptions. He will look to attack the Ravens’ secondary by with his favorite target in Antonio Brown, especially with corner Jimmy Smith being listed as out for the game. For the year, Roethlisberger has thrown for 3,540 yards with 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He has been sacked 17 times. In December, he has just three TD’s to four picks, a stat he needs to drastically improve on from here on forward.
Brown is 2nd the NFL with 96 receptions. He has scored 11 touchdowns. Eli Rogers has become a weapon out of the slot. He has contributed 38 catches for 449 yards and three TD’s. Sammie Coates, who has just two catches in his last seven games, is doubtful with a hamstring injury suffered in practice this week. Darrius Heyward-Bey, out since he hurt his ankle vs the Ravens in week nine, may be ready to go. Cobi Hamilton has stepped up in the absences of both Coates and Heyward-Bey. He’s recorded a reception in eight of his last nine games. Rookie Demarcus Ayers may see his first action of the year since being promoted from the Practice Squad. He was inactive last week.
Ladarius Green is doubtful with a concussion, so Jesse James will have kicked his game back into gear again for the Steelers at tight end, a spot Roethlisberger likes to utilize in short yardage and red zone opportunities.
Le’Veon Bell continues to push for league MVP with his exceptional efforts week in and week out. He has rushed for 1,146 yards and six scores, and is as dangerous out of the backfield, recording 72 receptions for 601 yards and another four TD’s. DeAngelo Williams should be able to find his way back on the playing field after missing every game since Baltimore.
Stephon Tuitt, though he officially is listed as questionable, did not practice this week after suffering a knee sprain on the third play of last Sunday’s win at Cincinnati. Under coach Mike Tomlin, players who did not practice Friday have not played in that week’s game.
A look at the Baltimore Ravens!
Overall Record: 8-6
Head Coach: John Harbaugh (9th Season with Ravens)
Overall Regular Season Record: 85-57 (.599)
Playoff Record: 10-5 (Qualified for playoffs 6 times)
Last Week: Baltimore 27 Philadelphia 26
Breakdown of the Ravens: Joe Flacco will win his 5th straight game over the Steelers. For the year, Flacco has thrown for 3,788 yards, but has recorded only 19 touchdowns and has been picked off 13 times. He has been sacked 28 times.
Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon lead a two-headed rushing attack for the Ravens, though Dixon seems to be on his way to becoming the main guy as the season winds down. West has 729 yards rushing with five TD’s. He also has caught the ball 27 times for 191 yards and another score. Dixon has picked it up since coming off of Injured Reserve. He has 281 yards rushing and a TD. He is also dangerous out of the backfield, recording 26 receptions for 142 yards. FB Kyle Juszczyk doesn’t run much, but he does have 33 catches for 255 yards.
Mike Wallace is 2nd on the Ravens with 64 catches for 963 yards and four TDs. He burned the Steelers for four catches and 124 yards and a score in week nine. Steve Smith, Sr is questionable but should play. He is 3rd on the team with 60 grabs for 686 yards. Breshad Perriman and Kamar Aiken also contribute to the Ravens passing game. Tight end Dennis Pitta is 1st on the team with 67 receptions, good for 563 yards and two TD’s.
While Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell has dominated most teams, the Ravens have managed to contain him. Bell is averaging just 67.7 yards in six career games against the Ravens, who are ranked second in the NFL against the run this season.
The Ravens will arrive at Heinz Field ranked No. 5 in the NFL in total defense (No. 2 rushing, No. 10 passing). But in their last two games, they’ve allowed a season-high 401 passing yards on Dec. 12 at New England and a season-high 169 rushing yards last Sunday against Philadelphia.
Game Preview: Ladies and gentleman…let’s get ready to rummmmmmmble! What more can you ask for on Christmas Day (well, for most of you) other than one of the most heated rivalries in all of sports?
“We are excited about this opportunity,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “When you really think about it, it’s going to be an exciting game for us, an exciting game for them. It’s going to be an exciting game for the fans. You could say that both teams have been fighting and clawing for some period of time to get to this point, to this game, in this stadium, with this amount of significance or what is at stake. From a competitor’s standpoint, it’s an awesome thing. It is a snapshot of December football.”
Ravens Coach John Harbaugh echoed those comments.
We understand the challenge that’s presented,” Harbaugh said. “Pittsburgh is playing great football. (It’s a) great team — all phases — a very well-coached, obviously, excellent playmakers, tough, hard-nosed team, and we’re looking forward to the challenge. But we feel like we’re up to it.”
The Steelers are looking for a little payback for their week nine loss to the Ravens, a team they’ve also lost to four straight times.
“We lost the first game,” Pittsburgh offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert said. “This game is going to be ours, it’s at our field. I’m excited, man. This is why we play the game of football.”
The Steelers (9-5) simply need a win to clinch their seventh AFC North title and earn a spot in the playoffs for the third straight year. The Ravens (8-6), meanwhile, likely need to beat both Pittsburgh and the Cincinnati Bengals in the regular-season finale to capture their first division crown since 2012.
The Steelers, to accomplish their goal of capturing the AFC North Title, must find a way to get the running game going against a staunch Ravens run defense.
Nose tackle Brandon Williams has been a thorn in the Steelers side.
“This guy has been dominant,” Tomlin said. “He is the central figure in why they’ve been so stout against the run. This guy routinely requires two people to block him, but even when you assign two people to him, very rarely is there movement.”
Le’Veon Bell knows he has a challenge ahead on Sunday.
“You have to give them a lot of respect,” Bell said. “They have a lot of good, physical players who are gifted at stopping the run. They live up to the hype.”
During their five-game winning streak, Bell has averaged 143 yards a game, and the Steelers are 8-2 this season when rushing for at least 90 yards.
Ben Roethlisberger will have to utilize what weapons he has at his disposal Sunday. Antonio Brown will always be his main priority, especially with Jimmy Smith out, but guys like Eli Rogers and Cobi Hamilton have stepped up in their rookie seasons, especially Rogers. With Ladarius Green likely out, Jesse James will have to try to achieve the success he had earlier in the year with Big Ben.
“I’m ready. I’ve done it already this year,” James said. “We have guys ready to step up who know their job and can do it out there.”
It’s time for the Steelers to put the Ravens to bed. The Steelers have been rolling even though Roethlisberger has been less than spectacular in the month of December. Look for Big Ben and the Steeler offense to deliver a late day Christmas gift to all of its fans, and a giant lump of coal for all of those who proudly pull for the Ravens.
Le’Veon Bell will find a way to get his yards, whether that be via the ground or air. He is a weapon that has to be deployed in a variety of ways to keep Baltimore off balance. With Jimmy Smith out, Roethlisberger should be able to get the ball to Antonio Brown early and often.
Pittsburgh’s goal is to win the Super Bowl. If they are the team they aspire to be, then beating the Ravens at home is a must. As Yoda said, “Do, or do not. There is no try.”
Prediction: Steelers 31 Ravens 20
Fantasy Football Impact
Start: QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Antonio Brown, RB Le’Veon Bell
Sit: TE Ladarius Green
Sleeper: Steelers D, WR Eli Rogers
It’s hard to go wrong with Ben Roethlisberger in this one. He always seems to step it up at home. Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are no-brainers. Ladarius Green is likely out. If you need a Flex play, Eli Rogers may be your answer.
Start: TE Dennis Pitta
Sit: QB Joe Flacco
The Ravens don’t employ too many Fantasy Stars. Dennis Pitta is your best bet.
NFL Week 16
Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) vs Baltimore Ravens (8-6)
Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.
Game-time: Sunday, December 25th, 4:30 pm
TV: NFL Network (Local WPXI) | Announcers: Mike Tirico (play-by-play) Tony Dungy and Doug Flutie (analysts) | Heather Cox (sideline)
Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE-FM | Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Tunch Ilkin (analyst) | Craig Wolfley (sideline)
National Radio: Westwood One | Announcers: Ian Eagle (play-by-play) Ross Tucker (analyst) | Hub Arkush (sideline)
Weather at Kickoff: Cloudy and 42 with a 5% chance of rain. Winds 5-10mph.
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh -6
- Series History: Series began in 1996.
- The Steelers are 21-20 in the overall Regular Season series against the Ravens.
- Steelers lead the series playing at home 12-8.
- Streak: Ravens won previous four meetings.
- Last Regular-Season Meeting: Nov. 6, 2016, at Baltimore- Baltimore 21 Pittsburgh 14
- Steelers are 3-1 in the Post-Season vs the Ravens.
- Last Post-Season Meeting: Jan. 3, 2015, in Pittsburgh- Baltimore 30 Pittsburgh 17 – AFC Wild Card
- Ravens HC John Harbaugh was the TE coach for the University of Pittsburgh in 1987.
- Ravens QB Joe Flacco played for the University of Pittsburgh from 2003-04 before transferring to the University of Delaware.
- With a win, the Steelers will have swept the Bengals in their regular-season series for the 19th time in series history and for the first time since 2014 (1982 not included due to shortened season).
- Ben Roethlisberger with a win, would improve to 10-8 vs. Baltimore in the regular season as a starter and to 8-2 at home against the Ravens.
- Roethlisberger is two touchdown passes from tying John Elway for the ninth most in NFL history (300).
- Antonio Brown needs four catches to mark his fourth straight season with at least 100 receptions and to extend his franchise record of consecutive seasons with at least 100 catches to four.
- Brown needs two touchdown catches to tie Lynn Swann (51) for the third-most touchdown grabs in team history.
- Le’Veon Bell will move into a tie with Barry Foster and John Henry Johnson (26) for the sixth-most rushing touchdowns in team history with his next rushing score and is two rushing touchdowns from sole possession of sixth in team history.
- Bell is 163 scrimmage yards from moving into eighth in team history (Willie Parker: 6,075).
- James Harrison is a half-sack from 80.0 in his career with the Steelers.
- William Gay will break a tie with Rod Woodson to set the record for the most interceptions returned for touchdowns in team history with his next pick six of six.
QB- Ben Roethlisberger (3,540 yards passing | 26 TD passes | 11 interceptions | 17 sacks)
RB- Le’Veon Bell (1,146 yards rushing | 6 rushing TD’s | 72 receptions | 601 yards receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
RB- DeAngelo Williams (276 yards rushing | 3 rushing TD’s | 15 receptions | 91 yards receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
WR- Antonio Brown (96 receptions | 1,188 receiving yards | 11 receiving TD’s)
WR- Eli Rogers (38 receptions | 449 receiving yards | 3 receiving TD’s)
WR- Sammie Coates (20 receptions | 425 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
WR- Cobi Hamilton (13 receptions | 174 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
TE- Jesse James (33 receptions | 273 receiving yards | 3 receiving TD’s)
TE- Ladarius Green (18 receptions | 304 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
K- Chris Boswell (Extra Point: 29-29 | FG: 14-18 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 2-2 | 30-39: 7-8 | 40-49: 11-12 | 50+: 0-2 | Long: 49)
QB- Joe Flacco (3,788 yards passing | 19 TD passes | 13 interceptions | 28 sacks)
RB- Terrance West (729 yards rushing | 5 rushing TD’s | 27 receptions | 191 yards receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
RB- Kenneth Dixon (281 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD’s | 26 receptions | 142 yards receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
FB- Kyle Juszczyk (7 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 33 receptions | 255 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Mike Wallace (64 receptions | 963 receiving yards | 4 receiving TD’s)
WR- Steve Smith, Sr. (60 receptions | 686 receiving yards | 4 receiving TD’s)
WR- Breshad Perriman (26 receptions | 405 receiving yards | 3 receiving TD’s)
WR- Kamar Aiken (27 receptions | 306 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
TE- Dennis Pitta (67 receptions | 563 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
TE- Crockett Gilmore (8 receptions | 71 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
K- Justin Tucker (Extra Point: 9-9 | FG: 18-18 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 3-3 | 30-39: 8-9 | 40-49: 12-12 | 50+: 10-10 | Long: 57
Steelers – Ravens: Offensive vs Defensive Comparison
Steelers Offense: Steelers average 374.6 YPG | Ravens allow 312.6 YPG
Rushing: Steelers average 111.7 YPG | Ravens allow 82.1 YPG
Passing: Steelers average 262.9 YPG | Ravens allow 230.5 YPG
Scoring: Steelers average 24.4 PPG | Ravens allow 18.8 PPG
Steelers Defense: Steelers allow 334.1 YPG | Ravens average 347.1 YPG
Rushing: Steelers allow 89.1 YPG | Ravens average 90.6 YPG
Passing: Steelers allow 245 YPG | Ravens average 256.5 YPG
Scoring: Steelers allow 19.7 PPG | Ravens average 21.9 PPG
Injury Report (12/23/2016)
Out: S Shamarko Thomas (Concussion)
Out: LB Kamalei Correa (Ribs), CB Jimmy Smith (Ankle)
Questionable: LB Anthony Levine (Toe), T Alex Lewis (Ankle), WR Steve Smith (Thigh), DE Brent Urban (Illness)
NFL Standings as of 12/23/2016
Pittsburgh Steelers 2016 Schedule
Friday, Aug. 12 DETROIT L, 30-17
Thursday, Aug. 18 PHILADELPHIA L, 17-0
Friday, Aug. 26 @ New Orleans W, 27-14
Thursday, Sept. 1 @ Carolina L, 18-6
Regular Season (9-5)
Monday, Sept. 12 @ Washington W, 38-16
Sunday, Sept. 18 CINCINNATI W, 24-16
Sunday, Sept. 25 @ Philadelphia L, 34-3
Sunday, Oct. 2 KANSAS CITY W, 43-14
Sunday, Oct. 9 NEW YORK JETS* W, 31-13
Sunday, Oct. 16 @ Miami* 1 p.m. L, 30-15
Sunday, Oct. 23 NEW ENGLAND* L, 16-27
Sunday, Oct. 30 BYE WEEK
Sunday, Nov. 6 @ Baltimore* L, 14-21
Sunday, Nov. 13 DALLAS* L, 30-35
Sunday, Nov. 20 @ Cleveland* W, 24-9
Thursday, Nov. 24 @ Indianapolis W, 28-7
Sunday, Dec. 4 NEW YORK GIANTS* W, 24-14
Sunday, Dec. 11 @ Buffalo* W, 27-20
Sunday, Dec. 18 @ Cincinnati* W, 24-20
Sunday, Dec. 25 BALTIMORE 4:30 p.m. (NFL Network)
Sunday, Jan. 1 CLEVELAND* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 7-8 Wild Card Weekend
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 14-15 Divisional Playoff Games
Sunday, Jan. 22 Conference Championships
Sunday, Jan. 29 Pro Bowl (Orlando, Fla.)
Sunday, Feb. 5 Super Bowl LI (Houston, Texas)