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Steelers-Ravens Pregame Primer: Keys to Victory, Picks, Prediction and More

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Steelers Ravens TE Mark Andrews

The Pittsburgh Steelers are on the road in Atlanta to take on the Falcons in an AFC-NFC matchup, their fourth of the season. The Steelers are 2-1 against the NFC this season, beating Tampa Bay and New Orleans already, and can clinch a winning record with a victory on Sunday.

Gameday: Steelers vs Ravens, 1 p.m.

KEY TO VICTORY: Take care of the football

The Steelers’ change in offensive fortunes the last few weeks has been predicated on two things: running the ball and taking care of the ball. The Steelers are probably going to be hard-pressed to have a big rushing day against a Baltimore defense that excels at stopping the run.

That’s probably going to lead to a lot more 2nd and 3rd and long situations than Kenny Pickett has been faced with recently. He needs to continue his interception-free streak and keep taking care of the football, even if that means a bunch of punts on Sunday.

After the catch, it will be incumbent on the Steelers receivers to hold onto the ball against a Baltimore defense that loves to knock it out. Diontae Johnson’s near-fumble nearly sank the Steelers against the Atlanta Falcons last week. JuJu Smith-Schuster fumbled one away here in overtime in 2019. In particular, cornerback Marlon Humphrey is the guy to watch in this area.

BOLD PREDICTION: The T.J. Watt we know returns

To say the least, T.J. Watt has not looked like himself since returning from injury. That’s probably been a combination of the lingering rib issue that has bothered him the last two weeks and teams aggressively sliding protection to him, which has opened things up for Cam Heyward and Alex Highsmith.

With the Ravens’ quarterback-led passing attack, though, Watt will be responsible for sealing the edge and keeping Tyler Huntley in the pocket, and that will mean more one-on-one matchups on the far outside as the Steelers flood the box with players.

Watt’s record-tying sack last season came against Huntley as part of a huge game in the regular-season finale against the Ravens and he could be poised to repeat that performance today.

OVERLOOKED MATCHUP: Terrell Edmunds vs. Mark Andrews

If one person was the most upset about Edmunds re-signing with Pittsburgh this offseason, it was probably Andrews. The Ravens’ All-Pro tight end dominates week-in and week-out, but his numbers against the Steelers are some of his worst. He averages 45.7 yards per game against Pittsburgh, the third fewest of all team’s he’s played twice and by far the lowest of the AFC North teams. With Rashod Bateman  and Lamar Jackson out, Andrews figures to be an ever big part of the Baltimore game plan this week than usual and it will mostly be up to Edmunds to keep him at bay.

PREDICTION

This will be low-scoring. The Ravens’ offense is a shell of itself without Jackson, Bateman and a banged-up running back room. Both teams are great at stopping the run. Expect lots of punts, and the team that makes the most mistakes to end up kicking themselves for it later.

Chris Boswell’s return for the Steelers could be key, as they will be nearly even with the Ravens in the field goal game.

Steelers 18, Ravens 17

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Pittsburgh -1.5 (-110)

Under 36.5 (-105)

Tyler Huntley to throw an interception (-122)

Last week: 2-1: W Pittsburgh -1, Under 42.5; L Kenny Pickett over 21.5 completions

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