Preview: Ravens Look to Remain Unbeaten in the AFC North

Baltimore Ravens safety Marcus Williams (32) intercepts a pass intended for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

The Baltimore Ravens are on the road for the second straight week as they travel to Pittsburgh to take on their longtime AFC north rivals. The Ravens enter Sunday’s contest coming off a dominating win over the Browns moving their record to 3-1 and most importantly 2-0 within the AFC north. The Steelers on the other hand have struggled to begin the season, most notably on the offensive side of the ball. The Steelers are 2-2 and are coming off one of their worst games of the year, a 30-6 defeat at the hands of the Houston Texans and rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud.

A win on Sunday could go a long way for the Ravens come the end of the season as they will have beaten each of their AFC north rivals in a span of four weeks. It would be the first time a team had swept the first three road games against divisional opponents since the 2019 Kansas City Chiefs.

Both the Ravens and Steelers come into Sunday will a laundry list of injury concerns, but while the Ravens appear to be getting healthier week to week the Steelers look to be going the opposite direction in terms of health. The Ravens have ruled out just two players thus far in outside linebacker Odafe Oweh (ankle) and safety Daryl Worley (shoulder). Right tackle Morgan Moses (shoulder) was listed as doubtful after not practicing on Friday. Moses was injured last week and was unable to finish the game. If Moses doesn’t play it would snap a streak of 134 games played. Expect Patrick Mekari to get the start at right tackle if Moses is ruled out on Sunday.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle) has missed the last two weeks and was the only one that was listed as limited during Fridays practice, he is currently listed as questionable. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (knee) is expected to play after practicing in full Wednesday and Thursday, but is officially listed as questionable for Sunday. Running back Justice Hill (foot/hamstring) was a full participant on Friday and is listed as questionable.

Two Ravens that could make their season debut on Sunday is rookie running back Keaton Mitchell (shoulder) and cornerback Marlon Humphrey (foot). Mitchel came off the IR this week and is listed as questionable while Marlon Humphrey practiced for the first time this week since foot surgery during training camp, and is also listed as questionable. Ravens safety Marcus Williams (pectoral), who has missed the last three weeks, and wide receiver Rashod Bateman (hamstring), who missed last week are both expected to play and do not have an injury designation for Sunday.

The Steelers enter Sunday already ruling out five players that include punter Pressley Harvin (hamstring), offensive lineman Dan Moore Jr. (knee), offensive lineman James Daniels (groin), defensive end DeMarvin Leal (concussion), and tight end Pat Freiermuth (hamstring). Linebacker Alex Highsmith (groin) was a limited participant during Steelers practice on Friday and is officially listed as questionable. Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett who was injured last Sunday reportedly suffered a bone bruise to his knee. There was some concern early in the week that Pickett could miss not only Sunday, but an extended period of time. After practicing in full on both Thursday and Friday, Pickett no longer has an injury designation meaning he will get the start come Sunday.

Players to Watch:

Patrick Mekari

With Morgan Moses expected to be out on Sunday utility offensive lineman Patrick Mekari is expected to make his third straight start, but his first at right tackle. Mekari started at left tackle in place of Ronnie Stanley after Stanley went down with a knee injury in the Ravens week one win over the Texans. With Stanley now expected to be back on Sunday Mekari is slotted to fill the spot left at right tackle.

Mekari, known as the sixth-man for his ability to come off the bench when needed and fill into any role on the Ravens offensive line makes him one of the most important players on this roster, even though he isn’t the first option to start. Finding a lineman that can start at all five positions is not easy to do, but Mekari has done it well during his five-year NFL career. So far this season Mekari has allowed just two sacks and committed just one penalty.

Mekari and the rest of the Ravens offensive line will have to be on top of their game on Sunday against one the leagues best, Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt. Watt has the ability to be a game wrecker, but after standing up tall to Myles Garrett and the Browns pass rush last week, expect Mekari to do much of the same come Sunday.

Minkah Fitzpatrick

Veteran safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is the leader of a young secondary group that includes 2023 first round pick cornerback Joey Porter Jr. The Steelers currently rank 26th in passing yards allowed giving up just under 255 yards through the air. But for Fitzpatrick its not for a lack of trying from the three-time Pro Bowler. On the year Fitzpatrick leads the team in tackles with 32, putting him on pace for 136 tackles on the year.

While the Steelers defense through four weeks is one of the worst Pittsburgh has seen in a long time, it wont take much for those on the Steelers sideline to play up to their potential come Sunday, Fitzpatrick included. Eight times Fitzpatrick has lined up against the Ravens as a member of the Steelers and in those eight games he’s recorded 38 tackles, one forced fumble, and two interceptions, with the most recent interception coming in the last matchup between the two teams.


There is no denying that through five weeks the Ravens have been the class of the AFC north while the Steelers look to be destined for one of their worse seasons under head coach Mike Tomlin. The Ravens defense enters Sunday’s matchup ranked third in the NFL in total defense, while the Steelers offense ranks a disappointing 29th, averaging just 15 points per game.

The disparity between the two teams doesn’t just end there. The Steelers, who have long prided themselves on defense, are statistically one of the worst in the NFL through five weeks, giving up 25 points per game and just over 400 yards of offense. While the Ravens offense is putting up nearly 25 points and 335 yards per game.

With Kenny Picketts health in question, it will make it just that much harder for the Steelers on offense as they have struggled with a fully healthy Pickett under center. The keys to a Ravens win will be similar to that of last week, attack the quarterback, create turnovers, be efficient on offense, and score when given the opportunity. While I expect the Ravens defense to pick up right where it left off against the Browns, I also expect the Ravens offense to play one of its most complete games and impose their will both on the ground and through the air. The Ravens offensive line will need to keep quarterback Lamar Jackson clean however, as they go up against T.J. Watt who currently has six sacks so far this season. The return of left tackle Ronnie Stanley should help with that.

While this rivalry was built on close games and tough defense, with 24 games being decided by three points or less. I don’t see Sunday being number 25. Ravens win 27-13.   

Line: Baltimore -4.5

Over/Under: 38

All-Time Record: Pittsburgh leads series 30-24

Last Meeting: 1/1/23 Pittsburgh 16-13

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