Point spread: Ravens favored by 3 points
Over/under: 44 points
Location: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
In case you’ve missed it, there is no love lost between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers. In fact, these two AFC North franchises are considered by many to have the nastiest rivalry in the league. Both franchises are known for their intensity and physical style of play on both sides of the ball, and both teams have won two Super Bowl titles since the turn of the century.
There is almost always a lot on the line when these two teams meet, and this meeting is no different. The Ravens are trying to save their season, and the Steelers are trying to keep pace with the 3-0 Cincinnati Bengals. Anything can happen in rivalry games such as this, making this a must watch matchup for football fans all over the world. With that being said, here is a preview of what to look for and a final prediction of tonight’s matchup between the Ravens and Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Penn. (pictured above).
1. How will the Steelers’ offense perform with Michael Vick at quarterback?
Through the first three weeks of the season, the Steelers were well on their way to establishing themselves as one of the top offenses in the league. That was when they had Ben Roethlisberger under center. After Roethlisberger suffered a knee injury in Week 3 that will sideline him for 4-6 weeks, Michael Vick, a 13-year veteran, will now be quarterbacking the Pittsburgh offense. He will have the benefit of having a supporting cast that feature an All-Pro at wide receiver in Antonio Brown and an All-Pro at running back in Le’Veon Bell. When it’s all said and done, Vick’s performance tonight will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game.
2. Will the Ravens be able to overcome their unfortunate string of injuries?
There may not be another team in the league that has been hit harder by the injury bug than the Ravens. The most devastating injury of the bunch was the torn Achilles suffered by All-Pro outside linebacker Terrell Suggs in Week 1 that ended Suggs’s season. The Ravens have also yet to see wide receiver Breshad Perriman, their first round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, in game action. To make matters worse, they will also be without left tackle Eugene Monroe, defensive end Chris Canty, and tight end Crockett Gilmore. At 0-3, this is a must-win game for the Ravens if they want to have a chance at making it to the 2015 postseason – something that won’t be easy with so many key players sidelined with injuries.
3. Which team will respond better to the short week?
Players and coaches alike despise Thursday Night Football for the simple fact that playing on a Thursday night cuts their preparation and recovery time in half. As we’ve seen over the last few years, the shortened week that comes from playing a Thursday night game can serve as the great equalizer between two unevenly matched teams. Both teams in this matchup are dealing with quite a bit of adversity, and the team that better handles the short week will likely prevail.
Final prediction: Steelers 27, Ravens 24
The Ravens won’t be able to overcome their rash of injuries, which will lead to a poor performance for Baltimore’s offense, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell going over the century mark in rushing yards, and Michael Vick playing just well enough for the Steelers to come away with a narrow victory over the Ravens at home.