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Believe it or not, today's matchup marks the second time the NFL has played a game on a Wednesday. But it's the first time a contest has been relegated to a 3:40 p.m. ET midweek time slot usually reserved for daytime talk shows.
NBC has made the executive decision that it's more important we spend our night staring at the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. I prefer gambling on professional sports, but to each their own.
Here are our best bets for today's game - the NFL's first on a Wednesday since Sept. 5, 2012, when the league's season opener was moved a day earlier because of President Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention.
As much as we've criticized Lamar Jackson for his passing abilities lately, the signal-caller's absence makes the Ravens' offense that much less intimidating. Subtract another handful of starters from a group that ranks outside the top 10 in scoring, and you’re left with an obvious question: Where in the world will the offense come from?
Although a spread this high being attached to a divisional game of this magnitude is absurd, the market has rightly pushed it up from -10 to -10.5 Lay it.
Most of the public is concerned about the Ravens' ability to score, but I'm equally skeptical of Pittsburgh putting up points. Thankfully, the Steelers' defense has been lights out this season, because they're just No. 15 in DVOA offense despite playing the easiest opposing defenses.
Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh has gone under the total in five of his team's last seven as a road 'dog, so expect points to be at a premium. And when Justin Tucker hits a 65-yarder at the end of regulation to make it 20-20 and force overtime, you'll find me in the fetal position.
JuJu Smith-Schuster longest reception over 18.5 yards
Smith-Schuster has been somewhat of an afterthought among the Steelers' receivers this campaign, but he owns the Ravens.
Take out the meaningless Week 17 game against Baltimore last season, and the wideout's longest catch has gone over the number in all five of his career clashes with the Ravens. He's smashed it while catching passes for 19, 22, 24, 35, and 38 yards.
Robert Griffin III over 27.5 rushing yards
This number is way too low. As my man Herb Brooks once said, "Great moments are born from great opportunity." That's what Griffin has been given this afternoon.
The Ravens' offense is utterly depleted. Running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins are out. Patrick Ricard, the fullback and silent catalyst for the club's running game, is on the COVID-19 list, along with wide receiver Willie Snead and tight Mark Andrews. And fellow tight end Nick Boyle is on the injured reserve. This unit is running on fumes.
As Griffin deals with his lack of receiving options, he'll be scrambling for his life while trying to escape the Steelers' pass rush. He ran eight times for 50 yards during his lone start last season (also against the Steelers), and Griffin has recorded 30-plus rushing yards in six straight starts dating back to 2016. Given the situation, he might eclipse 50 yards here.
Luke Willson over (TBD) receiving yards
I looked at the Ravens' depth chart and, oh cool, there isn't a single available tight end who's usually on the 53-man roster with Boyle and Andrews out! Luke Willson enters from the practice squad. He played against the Titans and is filling all the shoes today.
Willson will be a security blanket for Griffin - who loves his tight ends - after a week with minimal practice. Hayden Hurst led the Ravens in yards during Griffin's 2019 start, and Gary Barnidge (how's that for a throwback?) was consistently among the Browns' leaders in receiving yards throughout RG3's stint in Cleveland. Once a line is posted for Willson, take the over on anything below 21.5 yards.
I've been skeptical of the Steelers' undefeated start as they play the NFL's softest schedule, but there's no doubting their ability to beat up on bad teams. And Baltimore, as currently constructed, is a bad team.
The Ravens are expected to be missing double-digit starters or key contributors, including their leading passer, leading receiver, and both of their leading rushers. Pittsburgh's defense held a healthy Baltimore lineup to seven points during the second half in Week 8, and the unit has limited its three opponents since to a combined 31 points.
The Steelers also produced 63 total points over recent wins against the Bengals and Jaguars, and they shouldn't struggle to exploit a Ravens defense that will find it difficult to generate any sort of pass rush. Pittsburgh players have been vocal about their frustrations with this postponed game, and I expect them to let it all out today.
Diontae Johnson over 57.5 receiving yards
After battling through injuries for much of the season, Johnson's long-awaited breakout is finally here. The Steelers' second-year wideout has averaged 78 yards over his last five games, with 75-plus yards and 10 targets in four of those contests.
The one exception was Week 8 against the Ravens, who will experience a much tougher time throwing off Pittsburgh's offensive rhythm without key pass-rushers. If Johnson gets his usual target share, he'll fly past this number.