(CBS Baltimore) — The Baltimore Ravens need a bounce-back game. After starting the season in convincing fashion — with two wins over the sub-par Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals — the team fell to earth in Week 3. The Kansas City Chiefs have a way of doing that to teams. A disappointing division loss to the uneven Cleveland Browns followed that.
The Ravens find themselves at 2-2, tied with the Browns for the lead in an AFC North that’s just there for the taking. The rival Steelers, without Ben Roethlisberger, await them in Pittsburgh, for the next installment of what CBS Philadelphia’s Don Bell describes as “…the preeminent rivalry in that division for a long time now.”
It won’t be the same without Big Ben, whose injured elbow has sidelined him for the season. Mason Rudolph continues under center in a reined-in Steelers offense that still managed to produce a convincing 27-3 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Rudolph seems to be settling in, going 24-28 for 229 yards and two touchdowns. Though let’s remember that his performance came against the Bengals and included mostly short passes, often behind the line of scrimmage. The Steelers defense erupted for eight sacks against Andy Dalton, holding him to just 171 yards passing and no touchdowns.
It all added up to Pittsburgh’s first win of the season.
But let’s state the obvious: the Ravens are a better team than the Bengals. It’s not even close. Lamar Jackson is an up-and-coming, dual-threat NFL star. He’s put up over 300 yards of offense in every outing this season. The offense can pile up points under his leadership, as they proved in Week 1. And the defense is one of the better units in the League, when they limit the explosive plays.
Further still, the Ravens will be looking to redeem themselves. “The Ravens are particularly angry after their last two weeks,” says Bell. “The way they played, obviously a loss to Kansas City and then a loss last week as well. They’re better than this. They’re better than 2-2.”
The loss to the Browns was extra embarrassing. Baker Mayfield picked them apart, going 20-30 for 342 yards. Nick Chubb amassed 165 yards and three touchdowns on just 20 carries.
The Ravens will be ready for the first of two games against the Steelers this season. Looking back, “the Steelers typically have a difficult time beating the Ravens with Ben Roethlisberger,” notes Bell. “I think it’s going to be very difficult to do it without him.”
“I like the Ravens to beat the Steelers.”
The Ravens play the Steelers Sunday @ 1:00 ET on CBS.