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Game preview: Can Ravens pull upset in rivalry vs. Steelers?


Game preview: Can Ravens pull upset in rivalry vs. Steelers?

What: Steelers (9-5) at Ravens (4-10)

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Where: M&T Bank Stadium

Watch: Ravens Kickoff at 12 pm on CSN, 1pm kickoff on CBS.

Five questions to ask:

1. What realistic chance do the Ravens have to slow down the Steelers’ offense?

Answer:  Almost none.

Ben Roethlisberger didn’t play when the Ravens beat the Steelers in Week 4. This time, Roethlisberger figures to do major damage, throwing to wide receivers Antonio Brown (116 catches, 1,586 yards, nine touchdowns) and Martavis Bryant (six touchdowns, 15.6 yards per catch). The Steelers make big plays routinely and the Ravens give up big plays too often. Simply put, this is a bad matchup for the Ravens defense.

2. Is there a formula for a Ravens’ upset?

Answer. Controlling the football and keeping Roethlisberger off the field.

The Ravens need a big day from running back Buck Allen, who was benched last week after fumbling early in the game.

3. Will the Steelers suffer a letdown?

Answer: Unlikely.

The Steelers don’t have a playoff spot locked up, and a loss would be devastating. And the Steelers and Ravens always look forward to playing each other.

4. Who’s the player to watch in the Ravens’ injury-depleted offense?

Answer:  Wide receiver Kamar Aiken.

He had five catches for 77 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers in Week 4. With 802 receiving yards, Aiken has a chance for a 1,000-yard season with a strong finish in the Ravens’ final two games.

5. Will this be a home game in name only?

Answer: It could turn into a Steelers’ crowd, especially if the Ravens fall behind early.

Plenty of Steelers fans will be ticket-hunting, and some Ravens fans could be in a selling mood, with their team out of the playoff hunt.  It won’t be the home field advantage the Ravens usually enjoy when facing the Steelers.

Prediction: It’s hard to see the Ravens having enough firepower to keep pace with the potent Steelers.


MORE RAVENS: Five things on the Ravens Christmas wish list

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed WR Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal on Friday according to general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

The deal is apparently worth $21 million, according to Adam Shefter.

After being released by the Raiders Thursday following the signing of Jordy Nelson, Crabtree heads to the Ravens less than 24 hours later.


The 31-year-old is coming off a 2017 season when he recorded 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2016 he posted 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since 2015, the Texas Tech product has scored 25 receiving touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL. Crabtree and Steelers WR Antonio Brown are the only NFL players to post at least eight touchdown catches in each of the past three seasons.


In all, Crabtree has played nine NFL seasons – six of them with San Francisco (2009-14) and three with Oakland (2015-17). The former first-round draft pick (10th overall, Texas Tech) has registered 579 receptions for 6,870 yards (11.9 avg.) and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games (122 starts).

“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Crabtree’s 51 receiving scores rank 10th among active wide receivers, while his receptions (579) are seventh, and his receiving yards (6,870) are 12th.

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

The most obvious move in the NFL this offseason was the Ravens signing a new wide receiver (or three). It was less obvious why the team decided to commit so much money to former Redskins receiver Ryan Grant.

Grant has long been beloved by his coaches and teammates, but the results have never been there on game day. He has some potential to improve if given a larger role in a team's offense, which he likely would have had in Baltimore, but it never made much sense to offer him a 4-year contract worth nearly 30 million, with $14.5 million guaranteed.

Thankfully for fans who were uninspired by the reported agreement, Grant was unable to pass his physical and will not be joining the team.


At a press conference Friday morning, GM Ozzie Newsome called the void a "medical decision" that Newsome had no control over. 

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Grant is recovering from a Grade 2 sprained ankle that would need two months rest.

You have to feel for Grant, who by all accounts has worked his tail off for many years just waiting for his chance. It's never easy missing out on nearly $15 million dollars guaranteed, but Grant should be able to find work with another team.

The timing of this news, coming so soon after former Raider Michael Crabtree became available, seemed fishy to some.

At Friday's press conference, Newsome also said the team would have still pursued Crabtree if they signed Grant. 

It's probably not fair to suggest that an NFL franchise would actually so publicly back out of a deal just because another option came along, as any team with that reputation would struggle to attract future free agents. That said, it could end up working out splendidly for the team.

Besides, if all else is equal, shouldn't a team located in Baltimore be going after a guy named CRABtree?