WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON FOOTBALL: BALTIMORE RAVENS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS

BY ADAM GREENE

It was all but inevitable. The saving grace of an awful Thanksgiving Day slate of NFL action was pushed to Sunday thanks to the Baltimore Ravens going full Tennessee Titans with their COVID-19 cases. Why this keeps happening to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have been the opponent in both cases, is anyone’s guess.

As long as they do play it, we’ll still get a legitimate playoff caliber match up Wednesday night as the Baltimore Ravens travel to Heinz Field to face off against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers in the game that should have been the Thanksgiving Day nightcap.

BALTIMORE RAVENS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS (-10, O/U: 42)

Location: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Kickoff: Dec 2 3:4- p.m. EST

Broadcast: NBC

THE HISTORY

In spite of being built from the ashes of the original Cleveland Browns, the Ravens’ history doesn’t officially begin until 1996. As such, these two teams have met up 53 times, with the Steelers holding a 29-24 advantage in the series.

Baltimore, thanks to the season-ending injury to Ben Roethlisberger, swept Pittsburgh last season, but lost this year’s first contest 28-24 back on Nov. 1. In that game, Roethlisberger passed for 182 yards and tow touchdowns. Lamar Jackson had 208 yards passing with two touchdowns and two picks. Rookie J.K. Dobbins carried the ball 15 times for 113 yards and, in all, Baltimore had a tremendous day on the ground in the loss, piling up 265 yards.

Since that first 1996 meeting, the Ravens and Steelers have met up three times in the playoffs, with Pittsburgh holding a 2-1 edge there, including a 23-14 victory in the Jan. 2009 AFC Championship. The Steelers would go on to beat the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in Super Bowl XLIII.

BALTIMORE RAVENS (6-4)

If you’re old enough to remember the old NES Tecmo Bowl games, then you know the problem with the Baltimore offense. If the team playing defense guessed your correct play, they would immediately blow it up. In the original game, you had four plays to choose from. In Tecmo Super Bowl you had eight. The Ravens really shouldn’t have used that as the basis of their playbook.

Because of their predictability on offense, they’ve lost two straight and are currently outside the playoff bracket looking in. Last week they were knocked off by the Tennessee Titans, 30-24 in overtime. Jackson was good for 186 yards passing, a TD, a pick and 51 yards rushing. Tight end Mark Andrews continued his ascension as one of the best in the game, catching five passes for 96 yards and a touchdown to lead the team. Both probably won’t play because they’re in the COVID protocol. Baltimore has apparently gotten J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram back.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (10-0)

The Steelers kept their “L” column clear with a 27-3 drubbing of the overmatched Jacksonville Jaguars in their last game. Roethlisberger passed for 267 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. James Conner ran for 89 yards and Diontae Johnson, who seems to be the only Pittsburgh wideout no one talks about, caught 12 passes for 111 yards. The defense picked off Jags QB Jake Luton four times and sacked him twice.

THE PICK

This would be the perfect game for the Steelers to stumble in spite of Baltimore’s high school offensive design and playcalling. But the Ravens are missing huge chunks of their team thanks to the coronavirus. Really, though, there’s no excuse for any good, well coached team to lose to Baltimore and their ridiculous Pop Warner playbook. Steelers 31, Ravens 13

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