The Ravens head to Pittsburgh to celebrate Christmas with the single most important game on their schedule.
A prediction and five questions, for a game that will likely make or break the Ravens’ season:
Ravens at Steelers Week 16 How to Watch:
What: Ravens (8-6) at Steelers (9-5)
When: Sunday, 4:30 p.m., NFL Network
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
Ravens Injury Report:
OUT – LB Kamalei Correa (ribs), CB Jimmy Smith (ankle).
QUESTIONABLE – DB/LB Anthony Levine (toe), G Alex Lewis (ankle), WR Steve Smith Sr. (thigh), DT Brent Urban (illness).
Steelers Injury Report:
OUT – S Shamarko Thomas (concussion).
DOUBTFUL – WR Sammie Coates (hamstring), TE Ladarius Green (concussion).
QUESTIONABLE – LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle), WR Darius Heywood-Bey (foot), DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle), DE Stephon Tuitt (knee).
Five questions to ask:
1. Can Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley handle Steelers linebacker James Harrison?
Stanley had his worst game of the season against Harrison on Nov. 6, committing four penalties, and allowing three quarterback hurries and a sack. That was Stanley’s first game back from a foot injury. He is healthy now, but at age 38, Harrison is seemingly ageless and having a splendid year. Stanley must keep Harrison from causing havoc on Joe Flacco’s blindside for Flacco to have a big day.
2. Is the Ravens’ defense ready for Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell?
Bell had a season-low 32 yards rushing in November against the Ravens. However, the Ravens’ run defense looked abysmal in Week 15 against the Eagles, allowing Ryan Mathews to rush for 128 yards. If Bell shreds the Ravens’ defense, a Baltimore victory is unlikely.
3. Who will have the better game, Flacco or Ben Roethlisberger?
Both of these quarterbacks are capable of getting blistering hot. Roethlisberger does it on a far more consistent basis. But Flacco has a history of doing so in big moments. The quarterback that plays best will give his team a huge edge.
4. Can the Ravens keep it close enough for Justin Tucker to be a difference-maker?
Having the NFL’s most accurate field goal kicker in history gives the Ravens an advantage in big games. Heinz Field is not an easy place to kick, but elements never seem to bother Tucker. If the Ravens get him in range, particularly in a game-winning situation, expect Tucker to deliver.
5. Will the Ravens’ offense flourish, or fizzle?
The microscope is on offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and the Ravens’ offense, which has struggled to hit stride all season. Expecting the Ravens’ defense to keep the Steelers in check all game is asking a lot. It will likely take at least 20 points from the Ravens’ offense to win this game. No matter what the pass-run ratio is, the Ravens must click offensively, or it won’t be a Merry Christmas for them.
Prediction: The Ravens only have two road wins, and they came against two of the NFL’s worst teams – the Browns and Jaguars. Not having Smith in the lineup will make it more difficult for the Ravens to contain explosive Steelers receiver Antonio Brown. I just see too much stacked against the Ravens. Steelers 24, Ravens 20