It does not get much better than AFC North football and after being served an appetizer last week with the Browns taking on the Ravens and Steelers taking on the Bengals, football fans will be served a full course meal this weekend when the Ravens take on the Steelers. Despite it being just week five, the stakes could not be higher as a victory for the Steelers would put them right back in the mix for the division lead while a victory for the Ravens would make things very difficult for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Here are all the stats that will play a factor in Sunday’s divisional matchup.
1 – The Steelers are going to have their hands full Sunday trying to contain the Ravens’ rushing attack. Led by free agent acquisition Mark Ingram, the Ravens have the NFL’s top rushing offense, averaging over 200 rushing yards a game. The Ravens currently have three players with over 140 yards rushing (Steelers have zero). Ingram, the lead back is averaging six yards per carry, while quarterback Lamar Jackson is averaging 6.6 yards per carry and Gus Edwards is averaging nearly five yards a carry. The Steelers currently have the 22nd ranked run defense in the NFL and they are going to be coming up against their biggest test yet in the Ravens’ high-powered rushing attack.
4 – Mason Rudolph has been kept on a leash through his first two starts as most of his passes have been thrown around the line of scrimmage. Rudolph has completed just four passes that have traveled more than 10-yards past the line of scrimmage. The Ravens have given up their fair share of deep balls over the last two weeks and this could be the week that Rudolph has the reins taken off.
4.09 – Marquise Brown took the league by storm during the first few weeks of the season as he recorded 233 receiving yards over his first two contests. Brown will not be the only rookie receiver worth watching in Sunday’s divisional battle as the Steelers will counter with a rookie receiver of their own in Diontae Johnson. Since being inserted into the starting lineup in week three, Johnson has put up 129 yards on nine receptions. What has been most impressive about Johnson’s debut is his route running and ability to create separation. The Steelers’ receiver has created an average of 4.09 yards of separation over the last two weeks according to Next Gen Stats, far exceeding the NFL average of 2.83 yards.
147.8 – With a strong arm and quick feet, Lamar Jackson has quickly become of the more electrifying players in the NFL. Defenses have struggled to limit Jackson this season, as he also holds the NFL’s highest passer rating on third down. According to ESPN, Jackson has a 147.8 passer rating on third down. Going up against a quarterback that has been nearly perfect on third down, the Steelers defense is going to have to quickly find a way to shape into form. Up until this point the Steelers have allowed opponents to convert 42.3-percent of their third down attempts. That will not be acceptable against Jackson.
1033 – While the Steelers and Ravens have built their rivalry around tough, hard nosed defensive football, Sunday’s matchup might be a little different. While the Steelers’ defense is coming off a dominant showing against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Ravens are coming from a completely opposite direction. The once, scary and hard-hitting Ravens defense has managed to only scare their own fanbase over the last two weeks as they have allowed over 1000 yards of total offense. Rudolph, Conner and the rest of the Steelers’ offense will have a perfect opportunity to take advantage of a depleting Ravens’ defense on Sunday afternoon.