The Ravens almost got their wish Monday night when the Chiefs forced the Steelers into overtime and very nearly came away with a victory in Pittsburgh. The Steelers managed to walk away with a win, but it came at a steep cost. They lost both Big Ben and Ryan Clark in the game and it looks like they are both likely to miss this weeks game against the Ravens. The grand total for the Steelers injury count looks like this.
Ben Roethlisberger- According to Jason La Canfora, the Steelers are already preparing to be without Ben for “at least a few weeks”. the worst case scenario would be a fully separated throwing shoulder which potentially could keep Ben out for the rest of the regular season. Nothing is official yet obviously, but based on early reports it is highly unlikely that Ben will play this Sunday and it is fairly likely that he will miss the game three weeks from now. Byron Leftwich will likely start in his place. Leftwich looked pretty shakey and timid during the game tonight and his throwing motion isnt any better than it was back in the day. This is a massive downgrade for the Steelers.
Antonio Brown- Brown missed this game with an ankle sprain and is officially classified as week to week. Multiple sources have said that the Steelers don’t think Brown will be good to go for a couple of games or so. based on the reports I have heard this week, I doubt he has a better than 30% shot to play this week. Emmanuel Sanders will start in his place. Sanders has caused some trouble for the Ravens in recent games, but much of that can and should be attributed to the Ravens giving special attention to the Steelers other WRs. with Ben out and no Brown, Sanders shouldn’t pose much of a threat.
Ryan Clark- Clark suffered an injury in late in the game against the Chiefs. Officially he is listed with a concussion. That would be Clarks second such injury on the season which, if true, would make his chances to play Sunday pretty slim. The NFL has fairly strict testing procedures for players with multiple concussions and Clark would have to pass those tests by Wednesday at the latest to be fully prepared for the game. I give him about a 25% chance to play.
Troy Polomalu- Polomalu has made little progress in his return from a torn calf muscle over the last few weeks and according to sources he might have hit a wall in his rehab. Sources don’t expect Troy to see the field anytime soon despite reports that the Steelers were targeting the Ravens game for his return. This injury might not have a huge impact if it weren’t for the additional injury to Ryan Clark. The Steelers were just starting to find their groove in the secondary and now that group might be broken up and restructured once again.
Rashard Mendenhall- Mendenhall actually looks like he could possibly play this week. he was a late scratch for the Steelers and has been edging closer to getting back on the field for weeks now. Mendenhall probably has about a 50/50 chance to play. Without Mendenhall on the field, it is hard to see where the Steelers hope to get a spark on offense against the Ravens.
That is a bunch of key players out for this game. That is like the Ravens missing Flacco, Reed and Pollard, Rice, and Torrey Smith. I would rather play the Steelers at full strength because that would give Steelers fans nothing to talk about for a couple weeks after the Ravens kicked their a** Sunday, but I don’t mind the Ravens getting a softball lobbed across the plate in a heated division rivalry game that may well decide the eventual division champion. All the other injuries aside, I think without Big Ben the Steelers chances to beat the Ravens drop considerably. The Ravens are going to be able to score against the Steelers and I don’t think Byron Leftwich has what it takes to keep up. I don’t think highly of the Steelers run game without Mendenhall, their secondary could have a very bad game, particularly against Torrey Smith if they are missing both of their safeties and If the Ravens can double Wallace on every play without the threat of Brown(and with the general inaccuracy of Leftwich) on the other side, I don’t see the Steelers getting much going in the air. Wallace has never played particularly well against the Ravens.
The Ravens look like thy have been handed a golden opportunity at the expense of the Steelers. It is time to step up and seize it. win this game and the Ravens will be 8-2, with a 2 game lead over the Steelers who would be 6-4, with one last head to head coming in Baltimore with just 6 game remaining. that is a pretty commanding lead, not to mention 8-2 is a pretty great record. The Ravens absolutely must take advantage of this.