Sunday's duel between the Steelers and Ravens is more than just a game between two bitter rivals. The game is also a matchup between two of the NFL's best teams. At 6-0, the Steelers are the NFL's last undefeated team. The Ravens, a year removed from winning 13 regular season games, are 5-1, with their only loss coming against the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs.
The Ravens enter Sunday's game with a slight advantage, as they are coming off a bye week. The Steelers were also supposed to enter this game following a Week 7 bye before the league moved their Week 4 game against the Titans to last Sunday. Rest assured that the Steelers are using the lost bye week as motivation.
Baltimore, who swept Pittsburgh last season, is a 3.5-point favorite, according to William Hill Sportsbook. Six of our eight CBS Sports NFL experts have picked the Steelers to cover the spread, while five of the experts also picked Pittsburgh to improve to 7-0 for the first time since 1978.
Before we preview Sunday's game, here's how you can follow the action in real time.
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Sunday will only be Lamar Jackson's second career start against the Steelers. Jackson's first start against the Steelers (in week 5 of the 2019 season) was not a memorable one. While he did manage to lead the Ravens with 70 rushing yards, Jackson, last year's league MVP, was sacked five times while throwing a season-high three interceptions. Despite Jackson's struggled, the Ravens won in overtime against a Steelers team that was playing without Ben Roethlisberger, whose strong play this season has made him the frontrunner to win the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year.
While he has seen a dip in his completion percentage, Jackson is still one of the game's most dangerous offensive players. Through seven games, Jackson has thrown 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions while also serving as Baltimore's leading rusher. As was the case last season, Jackson's favorite targets are receiver Marquise Brown (376 receiving yards) and tight end Mark Andrews (five touchdown receptions). The Ravens' rushing attack, which last season set an NFL record for yards gained, is led by Jackson (346 yards), Mark Ingram (225 yards), Gus Edwards (218 yards) and rookie J.K. Dobbins (154 yards).
Pittsburgh's strength in numbers has been its recipe for success on the offensive side of the ball. The Steelers have six players that have caught at least 15 passes, led by JuJu Smith-Schuster's 32 receptions. Rookie Chase Claypool leads Pittsburgh with four touchdown receptions, while Diontae Johnson, tight end Eric Ebron and receiver James Washington have each made significant plays for Roethlisberger, who is completing a career-high 68.2% of his passes. The Steelers have also seen a revival in their ground game, led by James Conner (451 yards, four touchdowns), Benny Snell and rookie Anthony McFarland.
While both teams possess dynamic offenses, this game will come down to which defense can make the necessary stops at the critical moments. Pittsburgh's defense, led by linebackers T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Vince Williams, defensive linemen Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt and defensive backs Joe Haden and Minkah Fitzpatrick, boast the league's top-ranked run defense. Pittsburgh also has a whopping 26 sacks, with Watt, Dupree and Tuitt accounting for more than half of that total. The Steelers' run defense hasn't been the best on third down, however, as they are currently 18th in the league in that department.
Baltimore's defense, which has allowed the fewest points in the NFL thus far, has been led by veteran Calais Campbell (four sacks), cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey (2.5 sacks, one interception, four forced fumbles) and Marcus Peters (two interceptions), and rookie linebacker Patrick Queen (44 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries). And while they are sixth in the league on third down, Baltimore's defense is just 30th in red zone efficiency.
In a game between two evenly matched teams, the diversity of Pittsburgh's offense, along with the Steelers' ability to shut down the opponents' running game, tips the scales to the Steelers. If Pittsburgh can contain Jackson while receiving a strong performance from Conner, Snell and McFarland, the Steelers should be able to leave Baltimore with their undefeated record in tact.
Score: Steelers 23, Ravens 20