The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The Baltimore Ravens’ B-team is still better than the Steelers.
Explanation: Tomorrow’s game will feature two of the top offenses in the league. It will also feature one of the NFL’s best offenses and one of the worst. That is where the two teams have separated themselves from one another this year. But the Ravens will be resting several Pro Bowlers, particularly on offense. Are they still better anyway?
While players like Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram have been great additions for the Ravens offense, so much of their success has come from their system itself, and they’ve also created their roster with preservation of that system in mind. Jackson might not be in the game, but Robert Griffin III and Trace McSorley can run it as well, and they will.
So much of their offensive success has been about their ability to provide blocking matchups for themselves, and even resting a starting lineman or two, they still have the depth to make things work. Their tight ends especially, but also their wide receivers, are a part of their blocking scheme prominently, and those guys will still be out there.
The passing game also goes through the tight ends, especially Mark Andrews. Griffin should have him to throw to. And they still have Gus Edwards, who was the team’s leading rusher a year ago.
This Steelers defense was the last one to handle the Ravens’ offense, with Jackson in the game. While Baltimore has added weapons on the defensive side of the ball, Pittsburgh’s defense can make this a true war of attrition, which may play into their advantage.
It can depend on whom the Ravens decide to rest (certainly Earl Thomas, but what about Marcus Peters, or another starting cornerback), and anybody who rests on that side of the ball will be a great aide toward the Steelers being able to put up a few points.