Kickoff: Sunday, Dec. 10 at 8:30 p.m., Heinz Field
TV: NBC/WBAL-TV (Ch. 11)
TV Crew: Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst), Michele Tafoya (sideline)
Radio: 98 Rock | WBAL-1090 AM | Westwood One Sports
Local Radio Crew: Gerry Sandusky (play-by-play), Stan White (analyst), Jarret Johnson (analyst)
National Radio Crew: Kevin Kugler (play-by-play), Jason Taylor (analyst)
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Jersey Color: White
The Steelers would clinch the AFC North with a win or tie. The Ravens can't clinch a playoff spot, but they could put more pressure on Pittsburgh in the AFC North race, which hasn't been decided yet, and would take a big step forward in the wild-card chase. The Ravens have nearly a 90 percent chance of reaching the postseason as of now. A win would dramatically increase those odds.
Since 2008, when Head Coach John Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco arrived, the Ravens and Steelers are split with an 11-11 record, including the playoffs. Overall, the Steelers still lead the regular-season series, 23-20. Pittsburgh has won the last two meetings, including 26-9 victory Week 4 at M&T Bank Stadium. The last time the Ravens went to Heinz Field, the Steelers stole a Christmas win (and the division title) on an Antonio Brown touchdown with nine seconds left. Before that, the Ravens had won five of the previous seven matchups.
Will Offensive Momentum Carry Over?
The Ravens broke out with 37 offensive points against the Detroit Lions last week. They were more aggressive in the passing attack and Joe Flacco had his best game of the season. Was that game-specific to the Lions, or has Baltimore begun to shake up its offensive approach? Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg pointed to Flacco's improved health as part of the reason for his recent improvement. This week, Flacco said he loves playing in Heinz Field.
Ravens Defense Without Jimmy Smith
Top Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith went down with a torn Achilles in last week's game. In past years, that's been a death blow for Baltimore's secondary, but the Ravens feel more equipped to handle the loss this season with first-round rookie Marlon Humphrey and Maurice Canady ready to step in. It's not officially Humphrey's first start, but it may as well be as he's expected to play the entire game and get a stiff test from the league's leading receiver, Antonio Brown.
Baltimore's Run Stopping Power
While the Ravens won't have Smith, they will line up with defensive tackle Brandon Williams. Williams was out with a foot injury in the first matchup and Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell took advantage with 144 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Williams will make a big difference, but Bell got much of his yardage last time on the edges. The Ravens need to force Bell to dance in the backfield and form a wall in front of him.
Matchups to Watch
CB Marlon Humphrey vs. WR Antonio Brown
All eyes will be on the rookie in his biggest test yet. Humphrey has stood tall in the face of every challenge thus far, but Brown is more than just a challenge. Brown leads the league with 1,296 receiving yards and has put up 28 catches for 414 yards and six touchdowns over the past three games. Humphrey knows he's going to be tested early and often. Humphrey has the speed to keep up with Brown, but not nearly the experience and tricks of the trade.
OLB Terrell Suggs vs. QB Ben Roethlisberger
Many of the faces that have defined the Ravens-Steelers rivalry have retired, leaving Suggs and Big Ben as the last standing vestiges of those times. Suggs said there's no quarterback in the league he enjoys sacking more than Roethlisberger, and this week added that he'll forever be considered his biggest foe. Suggs lives for this game, yet he hasn't sacked Roethlisberger since Oct. 20, 2013. Suggs will be looking to change that, and he's been red hot lately with six sacks in his last four games and 10.5 on the year.
WR Mike Wallace vs. S Mike MitchellWallace has played well against his former team as a member of the Ravens. He scored a 95-yard touchdown in their first meeting last year when he toasted Mitchell, who took a poor angle. Wallace also scored a touchdown, this time from 16 yards out, in the teams' meeting earlier this year. Wallace was a big part of the offensive breakout last week, hauling in five catches for 116 yards. If he can burn his former mates deep, it will open everything up for Baltimore.