The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the most storied rivalries in sports, and with some big offseason moves, should provide another incredible season of competition between each other.
It is easy to forget, but it was a Christmas day comeback against the Baltimore Ravens that was the Steelers ticket to the playoffs. Had the Ravens won that game, it could have very easily been the Ravens in the playoffs. That stretch into the end zone by Antonio Brown was the highlight that kept the Steelers alive and able to play in the AFC Championship. The Steelers are going to have to compete with the Ravens to defend their NFC North Championship title.
Looking at the Ravens roster, I see a team that the Steelers could beat. The Ravens offense looks to be very average, but the Ravens should have a good defense and special teams per usual.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Ravens are lead by their experience game managing quarterback Joe Flacco. Some would call him a franchise quarterback, but I don’t think he is in that franchise category that Ben Roethlisberger is in.
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The Ravens lack a true stud weapon on the offensive side of the ball. Jeremy Maclin, who the Ravens added in free agency is on the downside of his career, and Mike Wallace is not the star he was in Pittsburgh. Their running game benefits from a star offensive guard in Marshall Yanda but is not at the level of Le’Veon Bell by any means. Ronnie Stanley has become a good protector for Joe Flacco’s blindside.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Ravens have a good secondary led by Eric Weddle. Their safety play is among the best in the league. Cornerback took a huge hit when Tavon Young went down with an ACL tear. I like the way the Steelers star receivers matchup against the Ravens corners. The Ravens front seven is solid, but I don’t think they are as talented as they used to be when they had Haloti Ngata. CJ Mosley and Brandon Williams are the key players in that group.
The Ravens special teams is always solid, and it is hard to say how their coverage units will look today, but this is usually a solid group for the Ravens. The Ravens also have the best kicker in the league in Justin Tucker.
The two teams are rivals, and the Ravens always play the Steelers tough. In fact, recent history shows the Ravens have gotten the better of the Steelers. The Ravens have won four of the last five games in the past two seasons. The Steelers will need to prepare better in head-to-head matchups to be successful. Overall, I think the Steelers are the better team, but the Ravens match up better head-to-head.