Steelers to face Ravens' backups in Week 18 must-win season-finale

Anticipated defensive boost for Steelers, facing Baltimore's backups, game predictions, & more.

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers
Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

As the Steelers hit the road for the final regular-season showdown against the Ravens, Baltimore, secure as the #1 seed, rests key players like Lamar Jackson. Pittsburgh faces a must-win situation, seeking a playoff berth. Even with a victory, additional help is required to secure a spot in the postseason.

What to expect from the rolling Steeler's offense

After the Steelers were able to score 30+ points again for the 2nd time in a row they are looking to keep that momentum for a 3rd straight game. The offense is finally clicking on all cylinders and it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. For a team that lacked an identity for the majority of the year, they’ve finally made everyone aware of the strength of their team and that’s running the football.

Rushing for over 200 yards against Seattle last week, the Steelers are looking to reproduce that ground success. The offensive line has been performing exceptionally well recently, and running backs Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris have been outstanding. Their effectiveness in the run game has also created openings in the passing game, as opposing linebackers and safeties are compelled to play closer to the line of scrimmage to defend against the potent run attack.

The Steelers have also introduced different route concepts, surprising many. Facing Baltimore, it's wise to stick to what’s been working. With starters out and the challenge of game planning without impact players, predicting the Ravens' defense is tough. If Mike Macdonald opts for basics and keeps it simple, that's likely Baltimore's route. However, they might also maintain their aggressive approach, seeking to eliminate division rivals from the playoffs without changing anything.

Predicting Baltimore's moves is challenging, given their status as the best defense in the NFL. They're creative in generating pressure and well-coached. Expect varied looks to confuse Mason Rudolph and pressure from all angles. Ball security is crucial against Baltimore; stick with the run and let everything else build off it

Steelers anticipate defensive boost with key starters return

Defensively, with Lamar Jackson out, Tyler Huntley steps in, a QB not to be taken lightly, especially against our injury-riddled defense. Learning from losses to Bailey Zappe and Gardner Minshew, treat this game as if facing Lamar. Huntley's athleticism requires maintaining pass rush lanes and forcing him to be a pocket passer.

Avoiding a collapsing pocket and securing gap integrity is crucial. Huntley excels in making plays out of structure, and letting him exploit that with his legs is a recipe for disaster. Inside linebackers must play disciplined, and the secondary needs improvement after last week's struggles. The relentless pass rush, led by TJ Watt, is poised for a breakout game after frustration last week.

The Steelers are optimistic about the return of Minkah Fitzpatrick and Elandon Roberts, two crucial components missing on defense. Their comeback is expected to shore up weaknesses that have been evident in their absence.

The status of Baltimore's skill players and offensive line is uncertain. A focus on stopping the run and making Tyler Huntley pass under pressure will be crucial. If the Steelers can secure an early lead, it aligns with their historical success in generating turnovers against Baltimore in recent years.

Can the Steeler's finish off the year with a win?

Overall, this is a must-win game. Losing to a Baltimore team without their best players after two strong performances would be unacceptable. Underestimate the Ravens at your own risk; they're the best team in the NFL. Maintain the recent momentum, start fast, and keep the intensity throughout. Secure the win and hope for the necessary luck to clinch a playoff spot.

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