One week after clinching the AFC North title and home-field advantage in the playoffs, the Baltimore Ravens take on the rival Steelers for their last regular season game. The Ravens will be resting the majority of their starters to prevent injury, but the Steelers will be playing for their playoff lives in the final game of the season. Here are 3 bold predictions for the week 18 matchup.
Tyler Huntley steps up
The Ravens made the decision to have Lamar Jackson sit for this week after clinching the 1 seed in the playoffs. The decision was an obvious one for the Ravens, who can't risk having Jackson enter the playoffs with an injury. So, Tyler Huntley will get his first start of the season for the Ravens.
Huntley has 8 career starts, and the results have been a bit of a mixed bag. He's had multiple solid performances, but he's struggled in general as a starter. Surprisingly enough, this will be Huntley's fourth career start against the Steelers. So far, he has a record of 1-2 with just 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions.
Although the numbers aren't good for Huntley against the Steelers in the past, I think he's going to have a solid performance in this one. I predict that Huntley will have over 250 total yards and 2 touchdowns.
Melvin Gordon has a big day
As I mentioned earlier, the Ravens will be resting a lot of their starters in this game so that they don't risk any injuries. This will be beneficial for a lot of young players, but one veteran may also benefit from this as well.
Melvin Gordon has had a very productive career, accumulating over 9,000 total yards and 70 total touchdowns. Gordon hasn't been used often for the Ravens this season, bouncing between the active roster and the practice squad for most of the year, leading to just 3 games played and 19 carries. But, I think he could be the feature back in this game.
We might see some Gus Edwards and Justice Hill, but I think it's likely that Gordon gets the most touches in this one. After scoring a touchdown in last weeks blowout victory against the Dolphins, I think Gordon will reach the end zone once again and have over 75 total yards.
Trenton Simpson makes a big impact
This game will be a huge opportunity for young players on the Ravens to make a good impression on the coaching staff going into next season. One of these players is rookie Trenton Simpson. Simpson was selected in the third round of the 2023 draft. Simpson hasn't seen the field much in his rookie season, but he has played some special teams. Saturday may be his first real chance at getting some playing time on defense.
The Ravens have the best linebacker duo in football with pro bowlers Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen, so Simpson hasn't received many snaps defensively. A good game for Simpson would be huge for the Ravens going forward due to Patrick Queen's expiring contract after the season. I think Simpson will deliver.
After recovering a fumble late in last weeks game against Miami, I think Simpson will make a handful of impact plays in this game as well. I predict that Simpson will record a sack and at least one turnover forced.