The Baltimore Ravens face a dire must-win situation if they expect to qualify for the postseason when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, but quarterback Lamar Jackson is still nursing an ankle injury so backup QB Tyler Huntley will get the start.
The Week 18 matchup is also supposed to be Ben Roethlisberger’s final game of his career with the Steelers before he retires at the end of the season. The Steelers are also fighting for a Wild Card berth, but they’ll need a lot of help too.
The Cincinnati Bengals secured the AFC North division title last week and locked up a home game in the first round of the playoffs. The Steelers (8-7-1) and Ravens (8-8) are slugging it out for a right to become the second AFC North team in the playoffs.
The Steelers can backdoor a playoff berth with a win against the Ravens, but they need assistance. Jacksonville Jaguars must upset the Indianapolis Colts, then the LA Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders game must not end in a tie.
The Ravens must defeat the Steelers, but they’ll also need the Jags to pick off the Colts, and the Raiders to defeat the Chargers and hope that game does not end in a tie.
FiveThirtyEight estimated the Steelers have a 7% chance to win a Wild Card berth, while the Ravens have just a 2% chance.
The Ravens are -3.5 favorites over the Steelers in the final game of the season. The total is on the low end at 40.5 over/under.
Jackson Out, Huntley In
Jackson will miss his fourth-straight game due to a sprained ankle. He was carted off the field against the Browns in Week 14. You know it’s a severe injury if Jackson is unable to suit up and play because he’s a fearless gamer. If the Ravens hit their one-outer and advance to the Wild Card, there’s a hope that Jackson will be able to start in the postseason.
“It’s a great opportunity, it’s a great accomplishment just to be in the Ravens versus the Steelers rivalry,” said Huntley.
Huntley started three games, but appeared in six games this season. Huntley completed 106 passes for 940 yards and three touchdowns. He tossed only two interceptions. He also has 35 rushes for 222 yards and two more rushing touchdowns.
As a starter this season, Huntley is 1-2 including two one-point losses against the Green Bay Packers and LA Rams. His sole win occurred against the Chicago Bears in Week 11.
“Tyler played well,” said head coach John Harbaugh. “He can play even better. That’s what he is aiming to do this week. Improve and build on his past performances. I’m looking forward to seeing that happen.”
Huntley didn’t look so hot last week against the Rams. He tossed an ugly interception and a failed to deliver a much-needed scoring drive late in the game after the Ravens blew a lead in the fourth quarter.
Under Huntley, the Ravens offense failed to score a touchdown for the first time in three seasons. The sole touchdown score was a Pick-6 from Chuck Clark when he intercepted Matthew Stafford late in the first quarter. Justin Tucker provided the rest of the scoring against the Rams with four field goals.