Ravens vs. Steelers: Shutting down JuJu Smith-Schuster is top priority

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 01: JuJu Smith-Schuster
BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 01: JuJu Smith-Schuster /

Antonio Brown may be the big, bad man in Pittsburgh, but the key to a Baltimore Ravens victory lies in shutting down JuJu Smith-Schuster.

When it comes to NFL rivalries, you’ll be hard pressed to find match-ups more entertaining than the Baltimore Ravens vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers. The amount of passion, energy, and hatred each team brings onto the field twice a year for this game is intoxicating. These games provide us plenty of great individual match-ups that make the game that much more intriguing. In recent years it’s been Antonio Brown vs. Jimmy Smith, but with no Smith in this game those duties will fall upon Marlon Humphrey.

However, stopping Brown won’t be the Ravens top priority come Sunday night, or at least it shouldn’t be. Instead, the defense needs to focus their collective energy on stopping second-year receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Believe it or not, stopping Smith-Schuster will be the toughest task of the evening for the Ravens.

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Durig the 2017 NFL Draft process, Ravens fans were clamoring for the team to draft JuJu Smith-Schuster out of USC, only to pass on him for linebacker Tyus Bowser. Whether or not JuJu would’ve had the success in Baltimore that’s he’s enjoying in Pittsburgh is an argument for another time, but it is nonetheless frustrating to see. Smith-Schuster was able to score a touchdown on Baltimore last season and left an impression after replicating the “Kamehameha” from Dragon Ball Z to celebrate his score.

With a Baltimore Ravens line-up at full strength, Humphrey would cover Smith-Schuster while Smith handled Brown, but the Ravens don’t possess that luxury this time around. Instead, Humphrey will shadow Brown all night long, leaving the rest of the team’s cornerbacks to attempt to slow down JuJu Smith-Schuster.

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It won’t be an easy task for the team as is, but it doesn’t help that JuJu has been on an absolute tear this season. Smith-Schuster has recorded 100+ receiving yards in each of his first three games this year, albeit not against top-tier competition. The Ravens will be hoping and counting on their secondary to step up and slow down JuJu Smith-Schuster on SNF, because an inability to do this will sink Baltimore’s hopes of winning this game.