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Ravens-Steelers Week 4: Three Key Matchups

September 29, 2017
WHO: Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) at Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
WHERE: M&T Bank Stadium
WHEN: Sunday, Oct. 1, 1 p.m.

After their fiasco in London last weekend, the Ravens might just be happy to be back on American soil. They have said all week that the 44-7 thrashing they took at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars is just one loss and they need to quickly regroup and forget about it, and there might be no better team to do that against than their AFC North rivals. 

The Ravens have no trouble focusing when the Steelers come to town, and lately, the Ravens have been up to the task; they have won six of the past eight meetings against the Steelers, including the past four in Baltimore. Here are three key matchups to watch as the Ravens hope to run that streak to five straight at home and take first place in the AFC North:

1. Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs vs. Steelers LT Alejandro Villanueva

Villanueva made a lot of headlines last week when the former Army Ranger emerged from the stadium tunnel to watch the national anthem in Chicago while his teammates remained out of view. But more important to the Ravens, Villanueva helped neutralize Suggs last year, and the Ravens need to create pressure on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Suggs has 14.5 sacks in his regular-season career against the Steelers, but none in his past five regular-season games against them.

2. Ravens LB C.J. Mosley or SS Tony Jefferson vs. Steelers TE Jesse James 

The Steelers have no doubt watched film of Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis catching three touchdown passes against the Ravens last week, as he beat Tyus Bowser, Mosley and Jefferson on different plays. The Ravens need to be ready to account for James even with a receiving corps that includes Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Le'Veon Bell out of the backfield. James might not be Heath Miller, but in three games this season he has a total of  12 receptions -- which would lead the Ravens. James has been dealing with a shoulder injury suffered against the Bears and has been limited in practice this week.

3. Ravens WR Mike Wallace, WR Jeremy Maclin vs. CB Joe Haden, CB Artie Burns

Is this the week Wallace finally gets going? He had a 95-yard touchdown catch last year against the Steelers, beating Burns on a slant and outrunning everyone to the end zone. But Wallace has been invisible this year, with three catches for 21 yards through three games. Maclin has been better, with seven catches for 95 yards, but 48 of those came on a quick slant touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1. The downfield passing game has been nonexistent. One of the Ravens receivers figures to be matched up with Haden, who had three interceptions with the Cleveland Browns last season -- all against Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. 

Prediction

Nothing about the way the Ravens played last Sunday against the Jaguars in London suggests the Ravens can win this game. But Flacco has played some of his best games against the Steelers, and the Ravens have beaten the Steelers four times in a row at home. There's no reason to assume the Ravens' offense will suddenly look polished, and the Ravens might need a defensive score, but they will escape with the win.

Ravens 20, Steelers 17.

Follow Bo on Twitter @bsmolka    

Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox