The Baltimore Ravens (8-8) will host the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1) in Week 18 as both teams continue to hold out hope for playoff appearances. After suffering a crushing last-minute defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams last week, NFL betting lines have the Ravens as 5.5-point favorites against the Steelers.
Let’s look at the Baltimore Ravens scoring potential this Sunday.
Baltimore Ravens (-5.5)
- Date: Sunday, Jan. 9th
- Time: 1:00 P.M. EST
- Venue: M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD
The Baltimore Ravens are still technically alive in the AFC postseason race, although they need a lot of help to get to the playoffs. A win, combined with losses from the Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, and Miami Dolphins, is the outcome needed for Baltimore to make it into the playoffs.
Who is Playing Quarterback?
After starting the season 8-3 and looking like one of the best teams in the AFC, Baltimore has lost five straight contests to fall to 8-8. Combined with several poor defensive performances, the Ravens have been searching for consistent play and availability at the quarterback position since Lamar Jackson suffered an ankle injury in Week 14.
Backup quarterback Tyler Huntley has done a respectable job replacing Jackson, going 28 for 40 for 218 yards and two TDs against the Green Bay Packers in Week 15. The Ravens scored 30 points in that game but lost the game 31-30 to Aaron Rodgers and company.
Because of health and safety protocols, Huntley could not play in a Week 16 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals. Journeyman quarterback Josh Johnson started, and while he posted 304 yards passing with two touchdowns and one interception, the Ravens lost to the Bengals 41-21.
Jackson barely practiced in the last few weeks, and his status for this Sunday’s game is still up in the air. Huntley would be in line for a second consecutive start if he cannot recover in time.
The Ravens vs. The Steelers’ Defense
The Baltimore Ravens score an average of 23.4 points per game. In addition, the Ravens come into this Week 18 matchup as the fifth-ranked rushing attack in football, averaging just under 140 yards per game on the ground.
Baltimore’s offense hasn’t played the same without Lamar Jackson under center. Without Jackson, the Ravens’ offense averages only 115.7 rushing yards in the previous three games, under their 139.4 per game season average.
Despite the downturn in offensive efficiency, the Ravens will have a chance to exploit a favorable matchup this week against a 31st ranked Steelers rushing defense. Allowing nearly 140 yards on the ground per game this year, the Steelers gave up 201 rushing yards to the Tennessee Titans in Week 15 and 127 to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16.
Devonta Freeman leads the Baltimore backfield with 555 yards this season. If Jackson, the leading rusher for the Ravens, cannot start, Tyler Huntley also offers some rushing upside. In limited appearances this season, Huntley is averaging over six yards per rush and 37 yards per game.
Baltimore Ravens: Can They Put Up Enough Points in Week 18?
While the return of Lamar Jackson would provide a boost to the entire Baltimore Ravens offense, the matchup between the Ravens rushing attack against the Steelers run defense will be one to watch, regardless. I believe that Baltimore’s running game will lead to the Ravens winning a close game, 24-21.
What do you think?
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