How much of a home field advantage will the Ravens really have Sunday when they host the Steelers? We know Steelers fans travel well. We know this is a huge game for the Steelers (9-5) as they battle to make the playoffs. We know the Ravens (4-9) are out of the playoff picture, and some fans may be looking to unload tickets, especially two days after Christmas.
This could set up an interesting scenario at M&T Bank Stadium, where an invasion of Terrible Towels could take place. Ravens coach John Harbaugh knows the situation, and hopes Ravens’ fans will protect their house.
“It’s a rivalry game,” Harbaugh said. “It’s the Pittsburgh Steelers. We understand they’re coming in here with a lot at stake, and I’m sure a lot of their fans are going to be trying to get in the stadium as well. But I’m sure our fans will be up to the challenge as well.”
The Ravens will need all the help they can get Sunday. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger may be playing the best football of his career, and wide receiver Antonio Brown leads the NFL in receiving yards (1,586). Meanwhile, the Ravens remain injury-depleted, with tight end Crockett Gillmore becoming the eighth starter to go on the injured list Monday.
Yet, Ravens fans have remained supportive at home games, even though the last two losses – 35-6 to the Seahawks and 34-14 to the Chiefs, have been difficult for Ravens fans to watch.
“It’s our home game, so I expect most of our fans to be there,” Harbaugh said. “I think they’ll be fired up.
“One thing I’ve learned through all this is (that) I don’t believe we have fair-weather fans. That’s, to me, very evident, and I’ve been grateful for the response that our team has gotten from the fans.”
But with many Steelers’ fans expected to make a weekend trip to Baltimore, the Ravens may have a harder time than usual turning Sunday’s home crowd in their favor.
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