As we head into the final game of the 2019 regular season, we sit down with Steeler Maven’s Donnie Druin to talk Ravens vs. Steelers.
1. Win and you’re in… With the Baltimore Ravens resting some of their cornerstone players, i.e. Lamar Jackson, do you think that this Pittsburgh Steelers team can win when it matters most and get into the post-season?
"“I think if watching so much football has taught us anything, it’s that any given team can win or lose on a week to week basis. I’m going to be real honest, it’s been hard to watch Pittsburgh’s offense the last few weeks. Now that teams have legitimate film on Devlin Hodges, they’re finding ways to limit him even more than he already was. It’s what happens when you have an undrafted rookie quarterback and an offensive coordinator who refuses to adapt properly. I think Baltimore would LOVE to keep Pittsburgh out of the post-season, but how different is the offense with RG3 running the entire show? I guess we’ll see on Sunday. I do think the Steelers CAN win this game, but it’ll have to come via a strong Hodges performance.”"
The Pittsburgh Steelers defense is certainly talented enough to slow-down the Baltimore Ravens second-string offense. If Pittsburgh wants to win this game, they’ll need their offense to step up; something I don’t believe they’ll be able to do on Sunday in Charm City.
2. Pittsburgh’s quarterback situation is a mess and playing in Baltimore isn’t easy. How would you draw your game plan up for offensive success this week?
"“That’s so tough to do. People talk about Pittsburgh’s defense a lot, and deservedly so. Yet Baltimore’s defense is no junior varsity team, either. The best way to move the ball for Pittsburgh has been through receivers Diontae Johnson and James Washington. Personally, I would work Johnson out of the slot and get him the ball early and often (I’m talking Michael Thomas targets here). With James Conner out, it appears as if the Steelers will be down to the likes of Benny Snell, Jaylen Samuels and Kerrith Whyte carrying the ball. Not exactly threatening to a run defense such as Baltimore’s. However, you still need to establish the run in these sorts of games, and I’d like to see Pittsburgh rely heavily on play-action to relieve some pressure off Hodges.”"
The Ravens have the cornerbacks to swallow up the Steelers pass catchers, and an offense without James Conner will be limited. Look for Baltimore to key on the run game, even against lower-tier runners, and mirror Pittsburgh’s receivers in man coverage. Devlin Hodges will have to do a lot of the heavy-lifting in this game.