Coming off a Week 13 win against the Atlanta Falcons, the Pittsburgh Steelers are set to add another chapter in their storied rivalry with the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14. While there is not much hope for the last-place team in the AFC North, the 5-7 Steelers are still technically within the AFC playoff hunt and would love nothing more than to play spoiler to their 8-4 rivals, who sit in first place.
The Baltimore Ravens will likely be without starting quarterback Lamar Jackson on Sunday due to a leg injury sustained in Week 13’s victory over the Denver Broncos. Instead, backup Tyler Huntley will be tasked with taking down the Steelers. That said, there is no room for excuses in this rivalry, and even without Jackson in the fold, each side will come out swinging with everything they have.
With this in mind, here are our three bold predictions for the Pittsburgh Steelers in their Week 14 game against the Ravens.
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3. Kenny Pickett records his first career multi-passing touchdown game
The rookie signal-caller is amid a bit of a hot streak of sorts. According to Pro Football Focus, Pickett’s streak of 128 passes without an interception is the second-longest active streak in the NFL, and the longest such streak in Steelers history among rookies per Brooke Pryor of ESPN. Considering Pickett tossed seven interceptions within the first four games of his young career, it is not a stretch to say he has really turned things around. One thing the first-round pick has not done, however, is throw for multiple touchdowns in a game.
Thus far in 2022, only three teams have thrown for multiple touchdowns against the Ravens defense, per CBS Sports. As such, Pickett’s odds of being able to accomplish this feat are stacked against him. That said, the Steelers seem more than comfortable letting the first-year QB take his shot in close. According to Pro Football Reference, Pickett has attempted 32 passes from within the 20-yard line in his nine game (and eight starts) under center, a fairly high total considering he did not begin the season as the starting quarterback. In a high-profile rivalry game like this, it would not be shocking to see offensive coordinator Matt Canada place more responsibility in Pickett’s hands to get the job done.
How this game script seems likely to play out lends itself to the game, to some degree, coming down to Pickett’s ability to step up. According to Football Database, seven of the last nine games between the Steelers and Ravens have been decided by less than one score. Given how strong Pickett has looked lately, taking command and leading sustained drives, it seems he is in a position to cement his place in this great rivalry with a breakout effort.
2. Steelers’ rushing attack goes off for 100+ rushing yards
Though Najee Harris has not had the sophomore campaign he had hoped to, though the Steelers’ rushing attack has improved significantly as of late. Per Alex Kozora of Steelers Depot, the Steelers rank third in rushing attempts (140), fifth in rushing yards (645), and tenth in yards per carry (4.6) since their Week 9 bye. Though the Ravens have been considerably tougher against the run as of late, this is a team that surrendered four 100+ rushing yard performances to opponent in their first seven games of 2022, per Pro Football Reference.
Regardless of what the matchup stats suggest, this will be a matchup based around grinding out possession and keeping control. Both the Steelers and Ravens rank top ten in time of possession over their last three games, per Team Rankings, so it will be imperative for both squads to sustain drives and play keep-away. As such, it will be imperative that the black and yellow stick with what has been successful for them as of late: running the ball. Don’t be shocked to see the Steelers pound the rock and keep drives steady on the ground.
1. Ravens fail to put up 20+ points, Steelers defense secures the win
Without Lamar Jackson in the lineup in all likelihood, backup Tyler Huntley will have to step up to the plate and attempt to lead the Ravens to victory. Unfortunately, he does not have a great track record of being able to put up a lot of points as the signal-caller. In five starts in 2021, the Ravens offense failed to score over 20 points three times, and in a Week 13 loss against the Cleveland Browns last year, they barely eclipsed that mark with 22 points, per Pro Football Reference.
Even just taking a look at last year’s Week 17 matchup, Huntley tallied 141 passing yards on 31 attempts with two interceptions and zero touchdowns. The Ravens are staring down essentially the same Steelers defense from 2021, but do not have wide receivers Marquise “Hollywood” Brown or Rashod Bateman this time around. With Brown being a member of the Arizona Cardinals and Bateman on IR with a foot injury, this depleted Ravens offense will likely struggle to find ways to keep up.
All of this likely has a lot to do with why the Steelers are the betting favorite for this game. Additionally, the Steelers’ defense has allowed the eighth-fewest total yards to opposing offenses and only 43 points over the last two weeks, per Stathead. Given how badly the Ravens are hurt by injury, and how hot the Steelers’ defense has been as of late, this should turn out to be a W in the Steelers’ favor.