The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens will renew the NFL’s best rivalry on Sunday. This will be the first of two crucial match-ups between the Ravens and Steelers this year. The winner of this game will take sole possession of first place in the AFC North Division.
Pittsburgh, with a win Sunday, would move to 7-0 on the season and maintain their one-game lead over the Ravens. They would also take control of the tiebreaker with a win. Baltimore would take over first place with a win by moving both teams to a record of 6-1, but they would take control with a tiebreaker in head-to-head games over the Steelers.
Steelers at Ravens – 5 Keys to the Game for Pittsburgh:
1.) Put Points on the Scoreboard
The Ravens defense leads the NFL in defensive scoring. They are only allowing 17 points per game. Pittsburgh will need to put more than 17 points on the scoreboard if they are going to win this game on Sunday.
In order to put up more points, the Steelers will rely on their offense to regain their form from the first half of last Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans. In the first half of that game the offense had four scoring drives and put up 24 points. What they need to avoid is the second-half performance that saw them go scoreless for 25 straight minutes of play.
2.) Establish the Run
For years the Ravens have been known for their run defense. That has taken a step back so far in 2020. They are allowing over 100 yards per game on the ground and the Steelers need to attack them in the run game.
A good run game takes lots of pressure off of Ben Roethlisberger and opens up the play-action passing game.
James Conner is having a very good season so far. Another big game for him on Sunday against the Ravens is a major key in getting the Steelers to 7-0 on the season.
Also, establishing the run will result in more time of possession. The Ravens offense can’t score if they aren’t on the field.
Now, so far this season the Ravens defense has been more susceptible to fast running backs. Miles Sanders had a 74-yard touchdown run against them for the Eagles. In week 1, Kareem Hunt had 72 yards rushing on 13 carries. Perhaps more edge rushes with Ray-Ray McCloud and Anthony McFarland Jr.
3.) Contain Lamar Jackson and Bring Pressure
This is a tough thing to do for defenses. One, you have to put pressure on Lamar Jackson when he is back to pass. At the same time, you can’t let Jackson escape and beat you with his legs. For the Steelers’ pass rushers this changes some of what they will be doing on Sunday.
They must get pressure on Jackson when he drops back to throw. When getting pressure, though, the Steelers front seven can’t lose containment and get pushed past the quarterback. This makes it harder to just sprint around the edge on the rush because Jackson can find a seam and get out and run if you do.
It will be important for the Steelers to mix up their blitzes and not over-pursue in the pass-rush. If they can contain Jackson, but still make him uncomfortable in the pocket it will make a huge difference in stopping the Baltimore offense.
4.) Take Advantage of the Situation
Rivalry games always come with extra motivation. Each team will be looking for every advantage in a game like this. One huge advantage of these games is a home-field advantage. That is something that relies on a lot of crowd noise and the environment, which will not be the case on Sunday.
With only 4,300 fans in attendance, it is unlikely the environment will be anywhere near that of a normal Steelers-Ravens game in Baltimore. This takes away some of the home-field advantage for the Ravens and the Steelers should take advantage of that. It means it is less likely that Ben Roethlisberger will have to use things like a silent count at the line.
5.) Make the Big Play
So many of the great Steelers-Ravens games during the past 20 years have been decided by a huge play. On Sunday, the team that wins may just be the team that makes the big play:
— That Blitz Guy (@ThatBlitzGuy) October 30, 2020
Tomlin vs. Harbaugh
Steelers vs. Ravens
A timeline on all the drama & highlights that have shaped this matchup into the best rivalry in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/SFLHWTv9RG
— Daniel Valente (@StatsGuyDaniel) October 29, 2020
The Immaculate Extension ✨
— Ellie Finnerty (@elliefinnerty) July 20, 2020