Slight Majority of Pundits Predict a Baltimore Victory
Last week, the Ravens clinched a playoff berth. This week, they might have an opportunity to eliminate the archrival Pittsburgh Steelers from playoff contention. Moreover, they also can ensure the Steelers experience their first losing season in Mike Tomlin’s 16 years as head coach.
A slight majority of the pundits we looked at (26 of 47) are predicting a victory for the Ravens (10-5) when they host the Steelers (7-8) on Sunday night.
The consensus is that it will be another low-scoring slugfest between the AFC North foes, much like it was three weeks ago in Pittsburgh when the Ravens grinded out a 16-14 victory.
The Ravens, who trail the first-place Cincinnati Bengals by a game in the division, are likely to be without Lamar Jackson (knee) again. Tyler Huntley has gone 2-1 as a starter in Jackson’s absence.
The Steelers, who have won five of their past seven games after a 2-6 start, would be eliminated from the playoff race prior to taking the field at M&T Bank Stadium if the Miami Dolphins defeat the Patriots in New England Sunday afternoon.
Here’s what the pundits are saying about Sunday night’s game:
The Ravens again willridetheir running game and Roquan Smith-led defense to victory.
The Athletic’s Vic Tafur: “It was a nice moment for the Steelers, getting the last-minute win over the Raiders to honor the late Franco Harris at home on a blustery Christmas Eve. … The Ravens are a much different animal than the Raiders and their defense is peaking. Since joining the Ravens in Week 9, Roquan Smith ranks second among linebackers in splash plays (29). breakups, stops on third and fourth downs.) Smith ranks first in snaps per splash play (13.2) among 51 qualified linebackers who have played 350 or more defensive snaps since Week 9. The Ravens won’t need Lamar Jackson back to beat the Steelers .”
Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer: “The Ravens are in full grinding-out victory mode with Tyler Huntley, their run-heavy offense and their stingy defense. That puts them in a good position against the Steelers after they won in Pittsburgh 16-14 in Week 14.”
CBS Sports’ Brady Quinn: “Tyler Huntley’s most likely going to start. … That being said, they can still run the football, they’re extremely physical offensively. Huntley can do enough in the passing game, making some plays to guys like Mark Andrews to be able to get enough to win this one.”
The Baltimore Sun’s Ryan McFadden: “The Steelers are fighting for a playoff spot against a longtime rival in prime-time, so it’s hard for me to see Pittsburgh allowing 200-plus rushing yards like it did in the previous matchup. But the Ravens’ defense will continue to play at a high level and allow the offense to make enough plays to pull out a win.”
Sports Illustrated’s Todd Karpovich: “The Ravens managed to edge the Steelers on the road in the first meeting by playing solid defense and running the football. They’ll stick to the script in the rematch.”
The Steelers will find a way to win a hard-fought contest.
The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec: “The Ravens already beat the Steelers once with Tyler Huntley, so it surely could happen again. But are the Steelers really going to allow the Ravens to rush for 200-plus yards again? Will the Steelers throw three interceptions in the red zone again? I doubt it. I think the Steelers win.”
The Baltimore Sun’s Child Walker: “There’s not much separating these teams. We know the game will be close. We know it will be low scoring. The Ravens ran at will in Pittsburgh and picked off [Mitch] Trubisky three times. They can’t count on repeating the same formula against a rival that’s fighting to stay alive.”
NBC Sports’ Chris Simms: “I think the Steelers match up well with the Ravens. … I was shocked the first time around that the Ravens ran the ball like that on the Steelers; I gotta think the Steelers are going to make some adjustments to their game plans.”
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio: “I won’t give up on the Steelers until they’re mathematically eliminated. Even then, I’d still find a way to believe in them.”
USA Today’s Richard Morin: “Baltimore knows it will be playing postseason football this year, but it’s the Steelers with something to play for here. Mike Tomlin will do everything in his power to ensure Pittsburgh doesn’t finish with a losing record. This one ends in a tie. “
The Ravens should be able to pressure quarterback Kenny Pickett, and that will be one of the keys to victory for them.
Pro Football Network’s Tommy Garrett: “If the Steelers don’t turn the ball over and can find success with [running back] Najee Harris, they have a solid shot to walk away with a victory and move to .500 heading into the final week. However, the Steelers offensive line has been a liability all season, and Pickett will likely be running out of time before he goes through his progressions. It certainly won’t be a blowout, but the Ravens move into Week 18 with their 11th victory.”
Bold prediction: The Steelers hold the Ravens to fewer than 100 rushing yards.
ESPN’s Brooke Pryor: “In their Week 14 meeting, the Ravens ran all over the Steelers, led by JK Dobbins’ 120 yards. Since then, the Steelers’ run defense mostly clamped down on prolific ground attacks. They held the Panthers to 21 rushing yards and the Raiders — including league-leading rusher Josh Jacobs — to just 58.”