Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Lamar Jackson suffered a sprained PCL which forced him from last week’s contest against the Broncos. The typical recovery time for that injury is 1-3 weeks, making it likely we see backup quarterback Tyler Huntley get the start for the Ravens.
- Mark Andrews averaged a 31% target market share and just under 100 yards per game, scoring three touchdowns in the five games with Huntley as the starter last season.
- It will be interesting to see how the Ravens choose to attack here. On the one hand, the fact that they are likely to start their backup quarterback would point to increased rush rates, but on the other hand, the Steelers present a pass-funnel matchup, allowing the sixth lowest yards per carry but most yards per pass this season.
- Steelers RB Najee Harris missed practice on Wednesday but did the same in Week 13 before playing 66% of the offensive snaps. I tentatively expect him to play here.
How baltimore Will Try To Win ::
There are a significant number of unknowns surrounding how the Ravens are likeliest to try to win here. The matchup clearly points to the potential for increased pass attempts against a pass-funnel Steelers defense, but the team will likely be starting their backup quarterback and have been neutral in pass rate over expectation (PROE) over the previous month of play. We also just saw Tyler Huntley enter Week 13 in the first quarter in relief of Lamar Jackson and attempt 32 passes against a run-funnel opponent in the Broncos. Furthermore, the Ravens currently sit at 8-4 and in first place in the AFC North with five games left to play, with their final game of the season likely to decide whether it is Baltimore or Cincinnati that play their first game of the playoffs at home (the two teams play in Week 18 after Baltimore took the first meeting). Tyler Huntley played more than 80% of the offensive snaps on five separate occasions in 2021 and finished with 31 or more pass attempts in each instance (31, 32, 36, 38, and 40). And finally, the Ravens have been able to run above league average number of offensive plays in each of their previous six contests while playing at one of the slowest paces in the league, likeliest due to a seventh-ranked net drive success rate on the year.
The Ravens backfield carries little to no certainty with Gus Edwards back in the fold, as each of Edwards, Kenyan Drake, Justice Hill, and fullback Patrick Ricard played 24% or more of the team’s offensive snaps a week ago. Furthermore, quarterback Tyler Huntley averaged nine carries per game in the five games that he played more than 80% of the offensive snaps a year ago before carrying the football 10 times last week (of 28 total team carries). It’s fair to expect Kenyan Drake to see an increased rate of snaps and opportunities in a negative game script and Gus Edwards to see an increased rate of snaps and opportunities in a positive game script, but that’s about the extent of our certainty for this unit this week. Finally, the Ravens have targeted the running back position only 52 times this season, the fifth lowest in the league. The matchup on the ground yields a well below average 4.16 net-adjusted line yards metric against a Pittsburgh defense holding opposing backfields to just 4.16 yards per carry.
Wide receiver Devin Duvernay played the highest snap rate of any Ravens wide receiver this season last week at 94%. Furthermore, he has played 78% or more of the offensive snaps in all three games since Baltimore’s Week 10 bye after playing more than 66% of the team’s offensive snaps only twice over the first nine games of the season. As in, Duvernay is starting to see enough snaps to provide ample upside considering his athletic profile. Mark Andrews totaled just under 500 yards receiving and three touchdowns in the five games last season in which Tyler Huntley played more than 80% of the offensive snaps and continues in a near every-down role this season. The only other pass-catcher to play more than 35% of the offensive snaps last week (veteran deep threat DeSean Jackson was at 35%) was Demarcus Robinson at 76%. This is still a team that operates primarily from heavy personnel alignments (and by “primarily” I mean nearly every offensive snap), but we’re seeing far less reliance (or trust in) the tertiary options recently, keeping Andrews, Duvernay, and Robinson on the field at increased rates. When you then consider that Tyler Huntley attempted no less than 31 pass attempts in any of the five games last season where he played the majority of the game, and that he then came in and attempted 32 passes in just over three quarters last week, the newfound concentration of the Ravens pass-catchers begins to add a bit of intrigue here – particularly considering the matchup with a pass-funnel Steelers defense.