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 Steelers will record their first multiple-possession victory over the Baltimore Ravens since the first meeting in 2017.
Explanation: The table could hardly be set any better for the Steelers on this one. While they are out a couple of starters, the Ravens are hindered far more by personnel shortages—not just key starters missing, but with depleted depth in the trenches.
While it is true that the Ravens and the Steelers play each other close a lot, one can easily make the case that this is the best Steelers team that has played the Ravens in rather a while. The defense is great, and is able to get after the quarterback like nobody else while also producing takeaways. Ben Roethlisberger’s return is night and day from the quarterbacking of last season.
Baltimore is without Lamar Jackson. Without Mark Andrews. Without Willie Snead. Without their starting and backup center. Their right guard is just returning from injury. And none of them have had a full practice since before the last time they were in a game, 11 days ago.
Let’s just say it—Robert Griffin III is not Lamar Jackson. He’s not the same running threat. He’s not even the same passer. And he will be without his two most reliable targets. We don’t even know (at the time I’m writing this) who will be in the backfield.
Oh, and the Steelers are pissed off, too. They wanted to play six days ago. They wanted to play three days ago. They wanted to play yesterday.
The Ravens are depleted in talent, to be sure, but they still have good coaching. Say what you will about them, but John Harbaugh is successful, and Greg Roman and Don Martindale are quality coordinators. It’s scheme as much as anything else that has helped keep this rivalry so close so frequently over the years.
The Steelers should win, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a reason these games are close. Tomlin has just four wins over the Ravens in his tenure in which he won by nine or more points, and only two in the past decade.