The Baltimore Ravens were the best team in the 2019 regular season, rocking a 14-2 record. The year 2020 has been kind to them as well, and they have jumped out to a 5-1 start through the first seven weeks of the season. However, Week 8 will see one of their biggest tests of the year – the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Their rivals actually lead the AFC North right now, with a perfect 6-0 record.
Knowing that, it does not take a genius to assume that this should be a great game. A game that has a lot of implications too, as it could help either team gain firm control on the division.
Okay, not firm control, as they will still be pretty close records wise. That win over one another will be nice though. It will certainly make things seem a lot easier for the team that wins.
Meanwhile, the losing team will suddenly appear to be a step behind. It’s never fun to try and have to build back up to the level of another team.
Due to all that, Week 8 should be exciting. Who wins though? What players make a name for themselves and what was fold under the pressure? There is a lot going on in this clash of titans.
With that in mind, let’s look at Baltimore and make four bold predictions for the Ravens in their Week 8 matchup with the Steelers.
Lamar Jackson’s Statement Game
2019 was the big breakout year for quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Baltimore quarterback was completely unstoppable, and it led to him winning the MVP unanimously.
2020 has been good, but it has not been anywhere close to that elite 2019 season. So a lot of people are starting to sour on him a little bit.
Some of the doubters have returned, and a narrative around him is starting to swirl again.
Through six games, Jackson has a solid-enough 63 completion percentage. However, he has thrown for only 1,135 yards.
That puts him on-pace for 3,026 yards – which is 101 fewer than last year when he only played in 15 games.
Jackson does have a solid 10 touchdown passes compared to two interceptions. But those numbers put him well below his touchdown pace of last season (27 this year, 36 last year).
The running actually has been about the same, he is averaging the same 6.9 yards per carry he was last year. While he is not set to break 1,000 yards on the ground again, the number is close and a good game could put him back over 1,000.
Now he’s facing that devastating Pittsburgh defense. So those numbers will continue to slide a bit, right?
No. Jackson had his first truly great game on the ground in Baltimore’s last game, against the Philadelphia Eagles.
In that game, he ran for over 100 yards (on just nine carries) and had a touchdown. That’s going to get him rolling.
Jackson will throw for over 200 yards and manage at least one touchdown in the air. Meanwhile, he’ll pick up another 75-plus on the ground and score another touchdown with his legs.
It won’t be the biggest game of his career, but it will be a statement that he’s back.
Defense Shuts Down Steelers
Most people are expecting this to be a defensive game. Both teams have terrifying defensive units, so that definitely checks out.
However, sometimes don’t go the way everyone expects. A defensive showdown can turn into a shootout at any moment. Especially if both teams realize the struggles they might have and decide to just start going for the home run plays.
That’s not how Week 8 between Baltimore and Pittsburgh will play out though. Sure, both teams will get on the board – but don’t expect all types of scoring.
Both teams will have strong defensive games. It will be the Ravens that put together the complete package though. There will be sacks, tackles for loss, and of course – turnovers.
Baltimore is not going to let Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense breathe. They will smother and attack all day and it will work out perfectly.
The Steelers will manage a score or two, but that’s going to be it. Sorry to all the fantasy owners of Pittsburgh players.
All Types of Rushing Yards
This could be the difference maker right here. James Conner is a great running back for the Steelers. However, it’s not impossible to shutdown one man.
The Ravens on the other hand, you need to worry about a handful of players – including Jackson at quarterback.
Due to that, it is a lot harder to shutdown that Baltimore rushing attack than it is for most other teams.
That is how Baltimore could win this game. As I’ve already mentioned, expect a defensive showdown.
In defensive showdowns, a lot of times the team that controls the time of possession is going to have a heavy advantage.
Baltimore is going to run the ball a lot and that is going to lead to them running out quite a bit of that clock.
Not only will Baltimore run it though, they’ll also be pretty effective.
Obviously the Steelers are a tough defense. With that in mind, it’s not like you’re going to see the Ravens picking up seven yards every single carry. They’ll keep those short and negative gains to a minimum though.
The Ravens will end with around 200 yards rushing, and a big lead in the time of possession.
With all of this, it only feels right to pick the Ravens to win. We’ve got Jackson having a statement game against division rivals.
At the same time, it’s going to be a big day on the ground for all of Baltimore. I had Jackson picking up at least 75 yards and his running backs throwing in quite a bit themselves. That leads to a lot of yards and owning the clock.
Finally, the defense is going to do their thing and shutdown the Steelers.
Now, with all of that – how could I possibly say the Ravens lose. I can’t.
Baltimore wins in a close defensive battle. Neither team is going to score much over 20, but it will be a very entertaining and exciting game from start to finish.
The Ravens use that home field advantage (or whatever you call it during these times) and walk away with a massive win over their undefeated AFC North rivals.
Baltimore moves up to 6-1 on the season and reminds everyone exactly who they are. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh drops to 6-1. They should not feel bad about this loss though. No one is perfect and they are still legitimate Super Bowl contenders. They were bound to lose one sooner or later.