MIKE PRESTON’S KEY MATCHUPS
McDonald has 23 catches for 321 yards and a touchdown and James has 19 for 283 yards and a score. Both are big, mobile and can work the middle of the field. Meanwhile, teams have been dropping a lot of passes over the heads of Ravens linebackers, who don’t get deep drops, and in front of Weddle and/or Jefferson. The Ravens have struggled this season in their one-on-one matchups against tight ends.
The Steelers rank 22nd in rushing offense with 100 yards per game, but they have gotten better in recent weeks. The Steelers offensive line is healthy, and there aren’t many centers in the NFL better than Pouncey. The Ravens are 11th in run defense, allowing 98.1 yards per game, but they’ve had trouble in the past two games against the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers. A big key will be up front. Pittsburgh was getting burned for long passes almost every game early in the season, and Brown had three catches for 116 yards in the first game between the teams, including one for 71 yards. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco loves to go after Haden, and Burns was getting toasted a lot earlier in the season. Pittsburgh likes to bring a lot of pressure, so expect Flacco to take some shots to Brown downfield.
Steelers tight end Vance McDonald collides with Cleveland’s Derrick Kindred.