High Noon in Dodge City: Ravens @ Steelers

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers

Via Steelerswire

It always seems to come down to this, doesn’t it? Last year’s contest in December was a notable exception, and perhaps that is why it was such a weird game—it’s so unusual for so little to be riding on the final Steelers/Ravens game.

Parsonpriem pointed out some fascinating information which hadn’t really occurred to me to look at about the Ravens’ road record and how much worse they have been on the road, even than the Steelers. You can see his whole comment here, but here is the essence of it:

On the road over the past 5 years the Ravens are currently 18-28 compared to 35-13 at home. For comparison, the Steelers are 33-13 at home and 23-23 on the road in that same span. Whatever Roethlisberger’s road woes may derive from, at least we don’t have a team-wide problem like the Ravens seem to.]

So my question was whether Joe Flacco has similar home/road splits to Ben, because as you have no doubt worked out by now, I’m pretty interested in the issue. So I put his info into the same format as I’ve been putting Ben’s and looked at the results. Here they are, and for comparison I’ve put Ben’s charts next to them:

img_0579screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-2-44-55-pm

img_0580screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-2-45-04-pm

I’m no stats expert by any means, but looking at this makes me feel that parsonpriem’s comment about the Ravens’ home/road splits being a team-wide problem is correct. Obviously, other than his first season, Flacco has been better at home than on the road, but the numbers (other than his wretched QBR in 2012) aren’t that much out of line.

None of this means a great deal in terms of a single game, of course. As Steeler fans know to their cost, the Ravens appear to always be able to put together a good effort against the Steelers, no matter how bad they look against everyone else. Familiarity may or may not breed contempt, but it does breed familiarity, and there aren’t likely to be many surprises from either team at this point.

Although the Ravens began the season rather poorly they have really pulled things together, both defensively and to a lesser extent offensively. While the offense remains somewhat streaky, the defense is one of the best, if not the best, in the league, particularly against the run.

So let’s turn to our old friend Football Outsiders to see what this week’s rankings look like. We’ll start with defense, since this is the strength of the team:

Team Defense:

  • Ravens: No 2 overall, (last week No. 2); No. 6 against the pass, No. 1 against the run
  • Steelers: No. 9 overall (last week No. 9); No. 13 against the pass, No. 9 against the run.

Defensive Lines:

  • Ravens: No. 6 in run blocking, No. 14 in pass protection.
  • Steelers: No. 11 in run blocking, No. 17 in pass protection.

Team Offense:

  • Ravens: No. 25 overall (last week No. 26); No. 23 in rushing, No. 31 in passing ranking.
  • Steelers: No. 10 overall (last week No. 9); No. 6 in rushing, No. 28 in passing.

Offensive Lines:

  • Ravens: No. 21 in run blocking, No. 7 in pass protection.
  • Steelers: No. 4 in run blocking, No. 2 in pass protection.

I suppose really what one ought to do is to juxtapose the lines that will be playing against each other. When the Steelers have the ball:

  • Ravens’ defensive line (No. 6) against Steelers’ offensive line (No. 4.) Advantage, Steelers, in theory.
  • Ravens’ defensive line (No. 14) vs. Steelers’ offensive line (No. 2.) Large advantage, Steelers, again in theory.

When the Ravens have the ball:

Steelers’ defensive line (No. 11 in run blocking) vs. Ravens’ offensive line (No. 21 in run blocking.) Advantage, Steelers.

Steelers’ defensive line (No.17 in pass protection) vs. Ravens’ offensive line (No. 7 in pass protection.) Advantage, Ravens.

So in theory the Steelers have the advantage in everything except defending the pass. But as we all know anything can happen on Sunday. In the end it is probably going to come down to whether Ben is having a good home day and Joe is having a bad road day. I wish I could predict the chances of that…

So I recommend that we all have a wonderful Christmas with our families and keep the Steelers game in perspective.

And speaking of the game, I am having a (grand)child’s Christmas in Wales—I’m visiting five of my grandchildren who live here. So the game doesn’t even begin until 9;30 at night, and that’s if I can actually figure out a way to watch it. All this by way of saying that Monday morning’s game recap might actually end up being Monday noon’s game recap…

13 comments

  • Merry Christmas and safe travels, Momma.

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  • cold_old_steelers_fan

    Have a Merry Christmas Momma and a Season’s Greetings to all Going Deep readers.

    Like

  • Got to be sports bars in Wales.
    Everybody have a wonderful and safe weekend.

    Like

  • I wouldn’t so “so little was riding” on the final Steelers/Ravens game last year. The Steelers were extremely lucky to back into the playoffs last year after failing to beat the 4-win Ravens playing with a QB off the street.

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  • Thanks for the follow up on my comment! Not to be excessive, but because it’s the Ravens game and I can’t help it, here’s some more stats for you. I love following the Steelers draft picks compared to the Ravens, and this is how it looks.

    1. In 2015, there were quite a lot of Ravens fans asserting that their 5th round selection of Bud Dupree’s UK teammate Za’Darius Smith would yield the better player, especially after Smith had a great rookie season. Did Newsome school Colbert in the evaluation of Kentucky LB’s?
    Dupree – 5 games (2 starts), 13 tackles, 2.5 sacks
    Smith – 11 games (4 starts), 17 tackles, 1 sack, 1 pass deflection, 1 forced fumble
    Verdict: Smith is a limited athlete with lots of intangibles, more pro ready with a higher floor but also a lower ceiling. He had a better rookie year than Dupree but was never going to become anything more, while Dupree with only a year under his belt has been almost as productive as Smith this year in only half the time. No, Ravens fans, Newsome did not school Colbert. Congratulate him on a 5th round pick well spent, but Smith is not better than Dupree.

    2. A Ravens team desperately in need of a WR’s picked small school super-athlete Breshad Perriman in the first round in 2015, while the Steelers waited to the 3rd to grab their deep threat in Sammie Coates. Did Colbert school Newsome here?
    Coates – 14 games (5 starts), 21 receptions, 435 yards, 2 tds
    Perriman – 14 games (1 start), 26 receptions, 405 yards, 3 tds
    Verdict: Due to injury, Coates has seen 25% fewer offensive snaps than Perriman despite playing in more games, but has been just as productive. Perriman, like Dupree, still has room to grow after missing his whole rookie season due to injury, but unlike Dupree hasn’t shown much growth along that curve yet. Here and now, the Steelers got just as good a WR 2 rounds later. Unfortunately, Coates was added to injury list this week with a hamstring and may once again be forced to sit out.

    3. One of the draft pick rivalries that really got me started on this was the obnoxious Ravens boasting about “stealing” Maxx Williams from the Steelers by trading up in the 2nd round and forcing them to “reach” for Senquez Golson. I still maintain that the Steelers were never going to waste a pick on a TE no matter how good he was with their need at CB, and that draft history shows that a tiny CB with elite talent in the late 2nd is not a reach. I also maintained that Jesse James, who the Steelers drafted in the 5th round, had a chance to be just as good as Williams. Did Newsome school Colbert in draft manipulation or did Colbert school Newsome (a former TE himself) in TE evaluation?
    James – 14 games, 33 receptions, 273 yards, 3 tds
    Williams – had 32 catches for 268 yards last year, but was placed on IR in October with zero catches this year due to extremely vague “cartilage issues” in his knee.
    Verdict: Hard to tell because of injury, but James looks like a decent player and Williams’ future is in doubt. Senquez Golson has yet to play a single snap because of injury, so I can’t judge Williams too harshly, but the gloating about “stealing” Maxx Williams from us seems to have died down dramatically. I think Colbert did just fine in waiting til the 5th round for his TE.

    4. In 2014, the Steelers were delighted to grab Stephon Tuitt in the 2nd round. Two picks later, the Ravens picked another defensive lineman in Timmy Jernigan. The longer DE, Tuitt, was a much better fit than the sparkplug DT Jernigan in LeBeau’s defense so it was never a question of drafting Jernigan even if he were a slightly better player, but it’s still an interesting rivalry. Jernigan started out hot compared to Tuitt in their rookie years, but regressed as a sophomore while Tuitt surged ahead. Which 2014 second rounder will eventually be the bigger boon to his defensive line?
    Tuitt – 14 games, 37 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles
    Jernigan – 14 games, 30 tackles, 5 sacks, 3 pass deflections, 1 int
    Verdict: Both players are really good; this could become a key part of the rivalry for years to come, like Harrison vs. Suggs or Reed vs. Polamalu. Unfortunately, it looks like Tuitt will miss the game this week, and that will be a serious blow to the Steelers.

    5. Last but not least, 2014 was the year of back to back picks at the same position. The Steelers drafted Ryan Shazier in the first round with the Ravens counteracting by drafting C.J. Mosley immediately thereafter (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery). This was in turn immediately followed by Raven fans claiming to have gotten the better player. Did Colbert pick the wrong ILB? Shazier has been oft injured until this season, but last year matched up almost identically to Mosley on a per game basis, let’s see how he’s done with equivalent playing time.
    Shazier – 11 games, 69 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 7 pass deflections, 1 int, 3 forced fumbles
    Mosley – 12 games, 72 tackles, 0 sacks, 7 pass deflections, 3 int, 1 forced fumble
    Verdict: Mosley doesn’t seem to have been used as a pass rusher as much this year as previously, which caught some teams by surprise as he tallied all 3 of his interceptions in the first 5 games of the season. This looks about like a draw, and once again seems likely to provide a key factor in the perpetuation of the on the field rivalry.

    Liked by 1 person

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