Everything You Need to Know, Ravens vs. Steelers

100419-Everything-You-Need-To-Know-vs-Steelers

Basics

Kickoff: 1 p.m., Heinz Field

TV: WJZ Channel 13 (Baltimore), CBS crew (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn)

Radio: WBAL (1090AM/101.5FM) and 98Rock (97.9 FM). Ravens crew (Gerry Sandusky, Jarret Johnson).

Jersey color: White

Stakes

The Ravens (2-2) need to avoid their third straight loss and second straight AFC North defeat. Pittsburgh (1-3) got its first victory Monday night, but a loss would give the Steelers their worst start since 2013.

History

Pittsburgh leads the all-time regular-season series, 25-21. The teams split the season series last year, with the Ravens winning, 26-14, in Pittsburgh, and the Steelers winning, 23-16, in Baltimore. Six of the last eight meetings have been decided by seven points or less.

Key Storylines

Will the Ravens resolve their defensive issues?

Baltimore’s defense is under the microscope after giving up more than 500 yards in back-to-back games for the first time in franchise history. The Ravens have paid dearly for defensive breakdowns that have led to big plays. Avoiding those mistakes, particularly in the secondary, will be a key to winning this game. Baltimore must also improve its run defense, which has been exposed in recent weeks.

ls Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph ready for Ravens-Steelers?

Rudolph will get his first taste of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry, making only his third career start. For years, dealing with the Steelers meant dealing with Ben Roethlisberger, a quarterback who is tough to bring down and masterful at extending plays. Rudolph has a different style, but he played well Monday night in a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Pittsburgh will try to help Rudolph with a strong running attack, quicker throws and a solid defensive performance. However, Rudolph will have to make some plays for Pittsburgh to win, while the Ravens will try to force the young quarterback into mistakes.

Will the Ravens put their archrivals in a bind?

This is a rare opportunity for Baltimore to put Pittsburgh in an early-season hole. Dropping the Steelers to 1-4 would make it extremely difficult for them to be a factor in the division race, particularly without Roethlisberger. But a Pittsburgh victory would raise even more questions about the Ravens and would clearly pull the Steelers back into the division race.

Key Matchups

Ravens offensive line vs. Steelers pass rush

Pittsburgh sacked Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton eight times Monday night and the Steelers have four players with at least two sacks – Stephon Tuitt, T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward and Bud Dupree. The Ravens offensive line may have its toughest assignment of the season, keeping the pocket from collapsing around Lamar Jackson. That would get even harder if center Matt Skura (knee) can’t play.

Ravens running attack vs. Steelers front seven

Pittsburgh’s run defense is ranked No. 22, which is an invitation for Baltimore to run the football. The Ravens may decide to give the Steelers a steady dose of running backs Mark Ingram II and Gus Edwards, along with some designed runs for Jackson.

Ravens run defense vs. Pittsburgh’s rushing attack

The Ravens have struggled to stop the run, and the memory of Nick Chubb’s 88-yard touchdown jaunt is still fresh in their minds. However, the Steelers haven’t run the ball consistently and don’t have anyone ranked among the league’s top 30 in rushing. The Steelers pulled out the Wildcat formation on some plays last week and could use it again, along with wide receiver reverses and other tactics to spark the running game.

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