Peter’s Prediction for Ravens vs. Steelers – October 8th, 2023
PETER’S PREDICTION FOR RAVENS VS. STEELERS – OCTOBER 8TH, 2023 – After an ideal preseason in which the Steelers looked like a potential juggernaut, they’ve disappointed through the first four weeks of the regular season. Their 2-2 record was dubbed a “miracle” by The Athletic’s team beat reporter, Mark Kaboly.
Since the late 2010s, Pittsburgh has lacked high-end talent, but they’ve never fallen out of the playoff mix. As much as I dislike them, I’ve always respected the team’s buttoned-up approach and overall class. But this season, the cracks of dysfunction are forming at the organization’s foundation.
The fault line is offensive coordinator Matt Canada. It’s rare for a coordinator to reach league wide notoriety for anything, and Canada’s infamy is due to all the wrong reasons.
As the Steelers’ offense has slipped further down the ranks under Canada, fans have grown frustrated. His proclivity for jet sweeps, overcomplication in short-yardage situations, and flat-out lack of scoring has made him detested among the yinzers. But as of late, the Canada experience has become something of a soap opera.
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First, Canada received criticism after CBS announcer Spero Dedes claimed Canada said the Steelers offense isn’t “built to come from behind.” Canada has since stated these comments were taken out of context.
Then, the dagger. A very suspicious Twitter account was discovered under the perfectly inconspicuous username “Dan Robbins.” Dan is an avid Steelers fan, so much so that he selected a stock photo of a Steelers hat as his profile picture.
He’s also a staunch defender of Matt Canada. He only replies to posts criticizing Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator. Now I’m not suggesting that an NFL offensive coordinator is taking to Twitter in his free time to defend himself. What I will say is, Dan’s been real quiet ever since his account got noticed.
It’s not just off the field where the Steelers have struggled. They’re scoring 15.5 points per game, 9.5 fewer than what they’ve allowed. They’re 28th in the league in red zone offense, 27th in yards per play, and they’ve scored four offensive touchdowns through four weeks.
The hype around Kenny Pickett has been subdued with each missed throw and he’s now dealing with a bone bruise. Diontae Johnson’s absence has hindered a receiving corps that drew a great deal of offseason hype. And an offensive line that has been atrocious will be without two starters on Sunday. Despite all of this, in typical Steelers fashion, they’re right at .500.
The Cavalry Has Arrived
I mentioned in the Browns’ recap that this might be the first week that the Ravens experience a net gain on the injury report, and I wasn’t kidding. Baltimore will be aided by the return of Odell Beckham Jr., and Rashod Bateman, for certain.
And potentially, Marcus Williams, Marlon Humphrey, and Ronnie Stanley. For a team that’s 3-1 with two division wins already under their belt, it’s hard not to be optimistic about Baltimore’s long-term outlook.
It’s no secret that Lamar Jackson hasn’t played his best ball versus the Steelers.
He’s 1-2 in games that he’s started against the black and gold with four passing touchdowns to six interceptions. All of those games were coordinated by Greg Roman, and I suspect we will see an improvement under Monken.
But with T.J. Watt rushing opposite Alex Highsmith, Lamar has got to have better feel within the pocket. It will help to have a full stable of receivers once again, especially against Pittsburgh’s sieve of a secondary. Patrick Peterson is getting by on name value alone. In coverage this season, he’s allowed 14 of 23 targets to be caught for four touchdowns.
Given Peterson’s poor performance, it’s slightly concerning that Joey Porter Jr. has yet to play more than 21 percent of snaps in any game.
Trial By Fire
Much has been made about Pittsburgh’s reluctance to get their rookies on the field early. And with left tackle Dan Moore Jr. possibly missing multiple weeks, their top pick will be thrust into the fold.
Broderick Jones will be making his first start at left tackle, but he doesn’t exactly have big shoes to fill. Dan Moore Jr. has an egregious 29.3 PFF rating. It’s a grade so low that no matter where you stand on the grading system, it’s clear he’s been bad. The Ravens’ pass rush hasn’t been stunning, but they should be good enough to give the rookie some trouble.
As long as Mike Tomlin is the coach, a cornered Steelers team with something to prove will always be a tough out. But I’ll take the bait and say that the issues surrounding this team are too much to overcome. A chance to start 3-0 in the division ahead of a trip to London cannot be squandered.