The regular season marks the culmination of an extensive investigation into who your team will be that year. By this point, you’ve gone through free agency, the draft, training camp, and the preseason. You feel good in your decisions insofar as you can create clarity without having played meaningful games. But there are still plenty of uncertainties that remain, whether at the start of the regular season or the end, and new ones continually develop over time.
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: Chase Claypool will have a big game with the Baltimore Ravens shadowing Marlon Humphrey on Diontae Johnson.
Explanation: With Marcus Peters on the Reserve/Injured List, the Ravens have been using Marlon Humphrey to shadow their opponent’s best wide receiver. That would be Diontae Johnson, and Ben Roethlisberger confirmed that’s what they are planning for the Ravens to do. That would leave Chase Claypool on the likes of Anthony Averett, Jimmy Smith, Tavon Young, and Chris Westry.
Any matchup that isn’t against Marlon Humphrey is a matchup that is to Claypool’s and the Steelers’ advantage. The Steelers are not going to be able to run the ball, and the Ravens will be stacking the box. Roethlisberger has shown an unwillingness to run out of RPOs against a stacked box, so expect to see plenty of pass attempts.
And he’s targeted Claypool plenty over the past two weeks, and he’s put up numbers—over 80 yards in each game, with a couple of big plays. I expect him to have at least one 30-plus-yard reception during the game, an area in which the Ravens have been awful. They have allowed a league-high 51 receptions of 20 or more yards, and a league-high 12 of 40 or more yards.
For starters, Claypool has to finish the catches in order to make them. Unless they’re using him in the slot—which they’re not, at least not nearly enough—he doesn’t get the sort of separation that lends itself to layup explosive plays. A lot of the ones he does make end up looking spectacular because they have to be.
And yeah, the Ravens defense has given up a lot of big plays this year, but they also know how to play support defense in zones, and they’ve been adjusting and improving. They’ve had some injuries they’ve had to adapt to. The pass rush is picking up. Roethlisberger isn’t going to have time to throw with Patrick Queen screaming through the A gap and B.J. Finney flailing on the ground.