Every Wednesday, I'll serve up five stats you should know heading into that week's Ravens game. This week's stats, pertaining to Thursday's primetime game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, will come under great fire because the CBS announcing crew will undoubtedly tell you to throw out the stats and the record books when these two teams get together.
Please do not do that, though this is why they're saying that…
Three – You'll hear this number enough Thursday night, but 10 of the last 12 regular season games between the Ravens and the Steelers have been decided by three points or less. The teams have been neck-and-neck in all stats except turnovers over that stretch, and all parties involved expect this to be another close affair. Except me. I have it as a four-point game.
Minus-3.8 – That was left tackle Eugene Monroe's grade in run blocking Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, per Pro Football Focus, the only negatively graded performance on the offensive line. Monroe, acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars last year to help stiffen the line, didn't get much run-blocking opportunity on his side, which could have contributed to that. The Ravens ran to either side of Monroe just twice, and found more success on the right side of the line. But for a team trying to recommit to the run, the whole unit will need to get in line.
83.6 – Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has posted a respectable 83.6 quarterback rating against the Steelers in his career, with 13 touchdown passes and five interceptions. This is the game for Flacco to be the leader you all want him so badly to be. The running game will be fluid. The defense has to deal with itself. It's time for Flacco to outperform that career rate and lead the Ravens to a win the team desperately needs.
3.1 – Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs had the highest game score on defense, according to PFF, meaning the team's lack of pass rush wasn't as bad as it seemed against the Bengals. He had four tackles, three solo stops, and a quarterback hurry, but was neutralized by a quick passing attack from Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. This grade shows Suggs played better than it would have appeared, and it bodes well for his chances of getting to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tomorrow.
3.6 – Running back Bernard Pierce's yards per carry in four career games against the Steelers. It's not going to inspire a lot of confidence, but Pierce is probably more of a long-term solution to the Ravens' running game than reserve Justin Forsett. He'll have to improve on that rate if he wants to keep it that way.