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Late for Work 12/9: What Pundits Expect in Ravens-Steelers Game

120922-LFWHuntley
QB Tyler Huntley

Majority of Pundits Are Predicting Pittsburgh to Prevail

You've surely heard the cliche about games between bitter rivals: "You can throw out the records when these two teams play." It's often been used to describe meetings between AFC North rivals Baltimore and Pittsburgh, and rightfully so.

With the Steelers hosting the Ravens this Sunday, the phrase is again applicable — only this time there's a twist: The last-place Steelers (5-7) are actually favored over the first-place Ravens (8-4) by 2.5 points.

The majority of pundits we looked at (29 of 42) are predicting a Steelers victory.

The main reason the pundits are bullish on Pittsburgh is because Lamar Jackson (knee) is unlikely to play, but it's not the only reason.

After starting the season 2-6, Pittsburgh has played much better over the past month. The Steelers have won three of their past four, with their only loss being a 37-30 shootout against the red-hot Cincinnati Bengals.

Meanwhile, the Ravens have been scuffling on offense in the three games since their bye week. This past Sunday, they needed a late rally to escape M&T Bank Stadium with a 10-9 win over the three-win Denver Broncos.

Here's what the pundits are saying about this Sunday's game:

No Lamar Jackson means no Ravens victory.

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec: "[Tyler] Huntley is plenty capable, but he's still a young quarterback prone to mistakes and he just doesn't possess the dynamic play-making ability that Jackson has. The Ravens' offense is riding the struggle bus and it's a lot to ask of Huntley to steady things on the road against a heated and motivated rival in December."

FanSided's Matt Verderame: "The Steelers are the better team with Lamar Jackson on the shelf. Baltimore has been struggling badly over the past month."

Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith: "Without Lamar Jackson, the Ravens are going to struggle to put points on the board, and the Steelers are playing hard every week."

Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio: "These two teams always keep it close. With Lamar Jackson out, Pittsburgh has an even better chance to further complicate the AFC playoff picture."

CBS Sports' Pete Prisco: "The Ravens have had offensive issues with Lamar Jackson, and now he's out. That means it's Tyler Huntley time at quarterback. The Steelers defense is playing better, so that's not a good thing for the Ravens."

USA Today's Lorenzo Reyes: "With Lamar Jackson banged up and likely out, and Baltimore's inconsistency, I feel quite comfortable riding the Steelers here."

The Ravens will get the job done with Huntley.

Sporting News' Vinnie Iyer: "The Ravens are facing another late-season fade out of the AFC playoffs with their North lead being very precarious again. Tyler Huntley, however, is one of the league's best backup QBs and the Ravens should like their chances to get the running game going here to support having this matchup's more dominant defense."

CBS Sports' John Breech: "Huntley is basically a mini-me version of Lamar Jackson and based on what he did in four starts last year, he might actually be able to provide a spark for a Ravens offense that's been in a rut over the past few weeks. I think we'll see a minor drop-off from the Ravens offense without Jackson, but I also think that Huntley plays well enough to lead Baltimore to a win."

The Athletic's Vic Tafur: "Huntley, like Jackson, can make plays with his legs, and that should deter Alex Highsmith and the Steelers pass rush from being too aggressive. The Ravens defense has to step up and should be able to contain Steelers RB Najee Harris and put the game in rookie QB Kenny Pickett's hands. He has been average thus far, but I might take Huntley over him. In fact, I am."

USA Today's Richard Morin: "The Ravens are 4-2 on the road this season and showed plenty of competitive spirit with Tyler Huntley under center last season. It'll be a low-scoring game, but the Ravens find a way to pull this one out."

The Ravens' edge on special teams and defense will be the difference.

The Ringer's Sheil Kapadia: "The Steelers are a mediocre team at best, and the Ravens pretty much always have an edge on special teams. Their defense should be able to get to Kenny Pickett. I think Huntley is capable of doing enough for the upset here."

The Ravens need to get their running game back on track.

Sports Illustrated's Todd Karpovich: "The key for the Ravens is to get the running game revved up after dealing with some recent struggles. That could also be tough against the Steelers, who are allowing 107.5 yards per game, ranked seventh in the NFL. Gus Edwards had just six carries last week against Denver and Kenyan Drake had seven. The Ravens need to get them more involved."

A Steelers victory is dependent upon opening up the passing game.

Pro Football Network's Kyle Yates: "Baltimore is allowing the second-fewest rushing yards per game, but the eighth-most passing yards this season. If Pickett can get the ball into the hands of his playmakers and trust them to make some big catches downfield to take advantage of the favorable matchup, Pittsburgh could advance to 6-7 on the season and be right back in the hunt."

Table inside Article
SourcePredictionCommentary
ESPN5 of 7 panelists pick Steelers
USA Today3 of 6 panelists pick Ravens
NFL.comSteelers 19, Ravens 16“These are not your September Steelers. Since the team’s Week 9 bye, Pittsburgh is 12th in overall efficiency, second in rushing and seventh in defense. A favorable schedule has helped the D — and that continues with Tyler Huntley likely to start for the Ravens. Huntley can play, but can the Ravens’ offensive line? Can their wide receivers get open? Lamar Jackson was struggling to cover up the team’s holes, and while Baltimore’s defense can slow down Najee Harris, Kenny Pickett has good options to throw to.” — Gregg Rosenthal
NFL Network6 of 10 panelists pick Steelers
Sporting NewsRavens 20, Steelers 17“The Ravens are facing another late-season fade out of the AFC playoffs with their North lead being very precarious again. Tyler Huntley, however, is one of the league's best backup QBs and the Ravens should like their chances to get the running game going here to support having this matchup's more dominant defense. Kenny Pickett will have major trouble with their pass rush and secondary after the run is shut down.” — Vinnie Iyer
CBS Sports5 of 8 panelists pick Steelers“Kenny Pickett is 3-1 in his last four starts for the Steelers as they make a little late-season push. The Ravens have had offensive issues with Lamar Jackson, and now he's out. That means it's Tyler Huntley time at quarterback. The Steelers defense is playing better, so that's not a good thing for the Ravens.” — Pete Prisco
Pro Football Talk3 of 3 panelists pick Steelers“These two teams always keep it close. With Lamar Jackson out, Pittsburgh has an even better chance to further complicate the AFC playoff picture.” — Mike Florio
Sports Illustrated5 of 5 panelists pick Steelers
FansidedSteelers 16, Ravens 13“The Steelers are the better team with Lamar Jackson on the shelf. Baltimore has been struggling badly over the past month.” — Matt Verderame

Terrell Owens: Baltimore Would Be Good Fit for Odell Beckham Jr.

Hall of Fame wide receiver Terrell Owens, who infamously managed to nullify a trade that sent him to the Ravens back in 2004, said Baltimore is the best destination for free-agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

"You think about [Jackson's] weapons on the outside, you don't really know who those No. 1 and No. 2 guys are," Owens told Audacy's 95-7 The Game in San Francisco. "You need somebody that can stretch the field and make those tough plays. Baltimore is a good fit for him."

Beckham, who suffered a torn ACL in the Super Bowl, remains unsigned after recent visits with the New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, and Dallas Cowboys. The three-time Pro Bowler reportedly has had talks with the Ravens.

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