NFL Week 8 Sunday 6:00pm Game Preview & Prediction and Fantasy advice, the game will go a long way to deciding the division.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens Preview
Sunday opens with massive clash as 2 of the AFC North’s finest go head to head. Baltimore came into the season as the hot favourites but as we approach the midway stage of the season their 5-1 record is surprisingly only good enough for 2nd behind the 6-0 Steelers, the NFL’s only remaining unbeaten team. An impressive win against the Tennessee Titans last week would have silenced a lot of doubters and knocking off the Ravens this week will surely cement them as legitimate SuperBowl contenders. Can they keep their unbeaten run going or will the Ravens take that ‘0’ away?
Money line: Steelers8/5Ravens1/2
Points Spread: Ravens –4
I think 8/5 is excellent odds for the Steelers. The Ravenshaven’t looked all that impressive, despite the 5-1 record and I think the Steelers have more than enough about them to hand them their 2nd loss.
If there was any doubt about this Steelers defense before last week, there shouldn’t be now. They held Derrick Henry to under 4 yards a carry, (even if they gave up a TD to him in the process) and did it without selling out too much to keep Ryan Tannehill and the passing offense in check. The face a different kind of test this week in the read option-based Ravens defense. They won’t win this battle on aggression alone and will need to stay disciplined, especially on the edge. But I trust Mike Tomlin to have a good plan in place and his player’s ability to execute it. If they get ahead and the Raven have to air it out more than they would like, there are turnovers there to be had too.
The offense also faces a very different prospect this week. While the Titans secondary were there to be got at, the Ravens have one of the best, if not the best, cornerback tandems in the league. Big plays will have to be earned by the Pitt receiver group, but they have enough talent there to get it done. I expect to see a lot of short to intermediate passes to Juju in the slot and he is a good option today especially in PPR leagues in my opinion.
James Conner has another tough task ahead of him at running back this week but that seems to be when he shows up the most. He may not ever be a fantasy giant, but he has shown he can keep putting respectable numbers up even against the better defences. I said last week I struggle to have any faith in him, and I’m not abandoning that, but it would be unfair to ignore his steady contribution.
As I already mentioned, the Steelers offense will have to earn every yard they get in this game. The face the no.1 defense in fantasy in the Baltimore Ravens, though they have played against their fair share of anaemic offenses to date. The Earl Thomas drama is in the rear-view mirror at this stage and they’ll be eager to impose their will on the Steelers attack.
Lamar Jackson was widely drafted early in fantasy drafts but so far hasn’t lived up to the billing. He and the Ravens have tried to convince everyone that he is good enough to beat teams with his arm if he has to, but the proof provided hasn’t been overwhelming. I expect the Steelers defense to try to make him do that again in this game, and I would be very apprehensive about starting Jackson unless you don’t have another viable option.
The knock-on effect is that his receivers may see more action than usual, but the question is the quality of those opportunities. Mark Andrews has been a favoured target of Jackson for a while now and should continue to contribute well for fantasy owners. And while Hollywood Brown hasn’t been doing too well as of late, he is always a big play threat.
At RB, whether Mark Ingram plays or not will be a latedecision. He hasn’t practiced all week which usually says he won’t play, although his advanced age and familiarity with the system would make it a lot easier for them to have held him out for precaution. But I think it’s unlikely he plays which puts the tandem of rookie JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards front and centre. That would likely result in a fairly even splitbetween the 2, and Justice Hill may even get a chance to make his way back from the wilderness. I don’t see a reliable option in this group.
The AFC North games are usually very physical affairs and don’t expect anything different here. These 2 will go to war. If the Ravens can establish a rhythm on offense, they’ll be tough to stop but my gut favours the Steelers to keep them at bay.
Steelers by 10
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