The matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens looked a lot different one week ago. Once 4.5-point favorites, the Steelers are now 3-point underdogs at home to their most hated rivals.
Things changed for Pittsburgh on Monday night when Ben Roethlisberger suffered an injury in the team’s win against the Kansas City Chiefs. A shoulder and rib injury could keep the quarterback out for a few weeks, and put the team’s playoff hopes in jeopardy.
The Steelers now turn to a quarterback that’s hasn’t started a game since 2009. Byron Leftwich was a first-round draft pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2003, but never lived up to expectations. He last got a shot with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. When he came in relief of Roethlisberger, Leftwich completed 7 of 14 passes, throwing for 73 yards.
Pittsburgh may have to change its offensive approach in the next week few weeks. They are in the middle of the pack in runs attempted. Rashard Mendenhall is healthy enough to start, so head coach Mike Tomlin might rely on him to help the Steelers move the ball. Isaac Redmond will also see some carries.
The Ravens suffered their worst injuries a few weeks ago. Their vaunted defense lost linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb for the season. Baltimore has allowed just 15 and 20 points in the last two games, possibly adjusting to their losses on defense.
A win for the Steelers would put both teams at 7-3 and tied for first place in the AFC North. Pittsburgh has yet to lose at home this season, and the Ravens are 2-2 on the road.
The game is set to air on Sunday night on NBC at 8:20. You can watch a free live stream online with SNF Extra.
Prediction: The Ravens now have the advantage at quarterback, but Joe Flacco has been inconsistent. Against a tough Steelers defense, he could have trouble moving the ball. Leftwich should have enough help from his running backs that he can help lead the Steelers on a few touchdown drives. At home, the stronger Pittsburgh defense should prevail.
Predicted Score: Pittsburgh 17, Baltimore 16