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Ravens vs. Steelers scouting report for Week 5: Who has the edge?

Here’s who has the edge on offense, defense and special teams in Sunday’s Week 5 game between the Ravens and Steelers at Heinz Field:

RAVENS PASSING GAME: Quarterback Lamar Jackson improved his accuracy in Week 4 after a disappointing performance against the Kansas City Chiefs, but he threw his first two interceptions of the season. He’s on pace to throw for 4,440 yards and 40 touchdowns with a 109.4 quarterback rating, so by any measure, he’s far ahead of where he was last year as a passer. Opponents have played off rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown to neutralize his speed, and he struggled in the Ravens’ 40-25 loss to the Cleveland Browns, with four catches on seven targets for 22 yards. Jackson’s other favorite target, tight end Mark Andrews, looked healthier than he did in Week 3 but caught just four passes on eight targets for 31 yards. Jackson spread his throws liberally against the Browns, with completions to 10 receivers. Rookie wide receiver Miles Boykin caught his second career touchdown pass against the Browns but still has not nudged ahead of veterans Seth Roberts and Willie Snead IV in the rotation.

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STEELERS PASSING GAME: The Steelers rank 23rd in passing offense with second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph filling in for the injured Ben Roethlisberger. Rudolph’s numbers — 67.6% completion rate with six touchdowns against two interceptions — are decent. He’s done most of his damage on short, quick throws and was particularly efficient in the Steelers’ 27-3 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night. As expected, JuJu Smith-Schuster has been Pittsburgh’s top receiver in the absence of Antonio Brown, averaging 15.2 yards per catch. Rookie Diontae Johnson has come on as the team’s No. 2 threat; he caught six passes on six targets against the Bengals. Running back James Conner is also a frequent target, with 19 catches for 153 yards through four games. Tight end Vance McDonald missed the Bengals game with a shoulder injury but could return against the Ravens.

EDGE: Ravens

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RAVENS RUNNING GAME: The Ravens still lead the league in rushing and yards per carry after piling up 173 yards against the Browns. Mark Ingram II leads the team with 328 rushing yards through four games and is averaging 6 yards per carry. But he did fumble to end a promising drive against Cleveland. Jackson is the league’s most productive running quarterback, on pace to near 1,000 yards for the season. Gus Edwards has averaged 4.5 yards per carry as the No. 2 option at running back. The Ravens’ offensive line has solidified into one of the most consistent units on the team, with right guard Marshal Yanda, left tackle Ronnie Stanley and center Matt Skura all grading as top-10 players at their positions, according to Pro Football Focus.

STEELERS RUNNING GAME: Conner did an excellent job replacing Le’Veon Bell last season, but he has not repeated his success as a runner so far this season. He’s averaging just 3.2 yards per carry and came out of the Bengals game with a sore ankle. Backup Jaylen Samuels has been equally inefficient. The offensive line features excellent players in center Maurkice Pouncey, right guard David DeCastro and right tackle Matt Feiler, but left guard Ramon Foster and left tackle Alejandro Villanueva have been below-average run blockers this season.

EDGE: Ravens

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RAVENS RUSH DEFENSE: The Browns ran for 193 yards, leaving Ravens defenders disgusted with themselves for poor tackling and lack of discipline. The Ravens still rank 10th overall in run defense, but that’s mostly because they beat up on the hapless Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals in Weeks 1 and 2. They added linebackers L.J. Fort and Josh Bynes this week in hopes of shoring up the middle of their defense. They also hope to get defensive tackle Brandon Williams back after he missed the Browns game with a knee injury. Middle linebacker Patrick Onwuasor leads the team in tackles but has graded as a below-average run defender, according to Pro Football Focus.

STEELERS RUSH DEFENSE: The Steelers have fallen well below their usual standards, allowing opponents to outgain them 491 yards to 258 yards on the ground. The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks both ran for more than 150 yards against Pittsburgh. Rookie Devin Bush leads the team in tackles, but neither he nor fellow inside linebacker Mark Barron have graded well against the run, according to Pro Football Focus. The Steelers do have several talented run stoppers along their defensive line, including defensive tackles Cameron Heyward (dealing with a thigh injury) and Stephon Tuitt and outside linebacker Bud Dupree. They held the Bengals to 73 yards on the ground.

EDGE: Ravens

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RAVENS PASS DEFENSE: This has been a startling weakness for a team that held opposing quarterbacks to 5.4 yards per attempt last season. That number has soared to 8.2 this season as the high-priced secondary has repeatedly blown coverages and missed tackles. Safety Tony Jefferson has been one of the worst in the league at his position, according to Pro Football Focus, and the Ravens have also struggled to find a steady replacement for injured nickel cornerback Tavon Young, though Maurice Canady has played well in part-time duty. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey thrived in man-to-man coverage against Browns star Odell Beckham Jr., but by his own admission, he’s made too many mistakes this season. Inside linebackers Onwuasor, Kenny Young and Chris Board have all played poorly in coverage, bad news given Conner’s effectiveness as a receiver. On top of everything else, the Ravens hit Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield just once Sunday.

STEELERS PASS DEFENSE: The Steelers rank 19th in the league in pass defense and have allowed opposing quarterbacks to average a solid 6.5 yards per attempt. But they’re loaded with productive pass rushers, both from the inside and the edges. Four Steelers have at least two sacks, led by Tuitt with 3½. Outside linebacker T.J. Watt ranks as one of the NFL’s best edge rushers. Pittsburgh is less imposing in coverage, with cornerback Steven Nelson standing out as the only player in the secondary with a good coverage grade, according to Pro Football Focus. The Steelers traded for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick after Week 2 in hopes of bolstering their back line.

EDGE: Steelers

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RAVENS SPECIAL TEAMS: Justin Tucker has made all six of his field-goal attempts this season, and Sam Koch has put eight of his 10 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. The Ravens have also excelled in coverage, allowing opponents to average just 3 yards per punt return and 16.1 yards per kick return under new special teams coach Chris Horton.

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STEELERS SPECIAL TEAMS: After a rough 2018 season, Chris Boswell has returned to his 2017 Pro Bowl form, making all seven of his field-goal attempts. Jordan Berry has struggled, however, ranking in the NFL’s bottom 10 in net punting average and putting just 27.8% of his punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. The Steelers have averaged just 4 yards per punt return while allowing opponents to average 10.9. They’ve been better on kickoffs, where they average 21.3 yards per return while allowing 18.8.

EDGE: Ravens

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RAVENS INTANGIBLES: The Ravens beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh last September, so they won’t be daunted by traveling to face their AFC North rival, especially with Roethlisberger out for the season. On the other hand, they’re reeling from a 40-25 demolition at the hands of the Browns, and they’ve been unable to fix their flaws on defense. The Ravens know they can’t afford another divisional loss at this point.

STEELERS INTANGIBLES: The Steelers started 0-3, but they’re riding higher after an easy win over the Bengals. They never make it easy on the Ravens, and they surely foresee an upset opportunity given their rival’s defensive woes. Mike Tomlin, like John Harbaugh, has become one of the league’s few coaching institutions. He faces plenty of criticism but has never finished a season with a losing record.

EDGE: Even

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PREDICTION: This will be a chance for the Ravens defense to get well against an inexperienced quarterback and an offense that struggled through the first three weeks. Lamar Jackson will keep the offense rolling on the ground in a surprisingly decisive road victory. Ravens 30, Steelers 20.

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