Guided by the fervor of Ray Lewis and Troy Polamalu the Baltimore Ravens–Pittsburgh Steelers rivalry has developed into arguably the NFL‘s best of this millennium. Now that Lewis has retired and Polamalu’s star long faded, many faces have changed on the cast that has provided some of the league’s best drama. Younger stars like Torrey Smith and Le’Veon Bell are now carrying that heated torch.
NFL Week 13 Matchup, Game Time and TV Info: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (8:30 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC)
Point Spread Prediction: Ravens by 3 (Early line: Ravens by 2.5)
Bell’s hard running and RG David DeCastro‘s interior push can’t alone skyrocket the Steelers’ YPC, but can elevate it to a respectable enough point that other teams need to at least think about the run. This is playing a huge role in opening up the pass game for Ben Roethlisberger‘s underrated weapons in Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. Bell’s at about 3 YPC for the season but flirted with 5 per carry in Pittsburgh’s 19-16 win over B-more earlier this year.
Dennis Pitta remains on the Ravens’ injured reserve/designated to return list and chances seem slim for his return by Thanksgiving, but Joe Flacco could sure use him. His good buddy and most trusted target suffered a hip injury in training camp. Though Flacco’s post-Super Bowl slump has nothing to do with it (joke).
Key Matchup: Torrey Smith vs. Ike Taylor
What Flacco does have at his disposal is one of the best deep threats in the NFL. As of this morning, only two cornerbacks have allowed more yards into their coverage than Taylor.