Ravens Week 17 Matchup With Steelers Flexed to Primetime

Ravens RB Gus Edwards

Getty Ravens RB Gus Edwards sheds a tackle against the Steelers in a regular season game on December 11, 2022.

After getting an early Christmas gift from one AFC North rival that helped them clinch a playoff berth, the league gave the Baltimore Ravens another on Christmas day. Their Week 17 divisional home matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers has been flexed into Sunday Night Football on New Year’s Day with a kickoff time of 8:20 p.m. as opposed to the 4:25 p.m. slot they were originally slotted to play in.

This will mark the second meeting between these teams in the last three weeks and will likely be the last time that these two bitter rivals faceoff this season. The Ravens snapped a four-game losing streak to the Steelers in Week 14 with a gritty 16-14 road win and according to Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun, this will mark the first time that this rivalry will be played in Baltimore on Sunday or Monday Night Football since 2013.

Both teams are coming off significant wins at home in Week 16 and will be looking to keep their momentum going. The Ravens bested the Atlanta Falcons 17-9 comfortably to help themselves up to clinch a postseason berth while the Steelers pulled off a late comeback over the Las Vegas Raiders 13-10 to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The Ravens are undefeated in primetime games this season with a perfect 3-0 record under a national spotlight. This will mark their fourth such contest and second on Sunday Night Football with the first coming in Week 5 in a tight 19-17 win over the current division-leading  Cincinnati Bengals.

Ravens Playmaker Not Happy About Flex

While most players are typically excited for the opportunity to play in a nationally televised game, one player on the Ravens who isn’t ecstatic about this particular game being flexed is third-year inside linebacker Patrick Queen. The ascending star took to Twitter to question why the league decided to flex this game over what can be assumed is their regular season finale in Week 18 instead.

He has a valid point in questioning the league’s decision because depending on what happens earlier in the day in Week 17, the Steelers could already be eliminated from playoff contention before the game kicks off. That means that they may very well have nothing to play for outside of trying to ensure Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin avoids his first losing season in 16 years at the helm.

The Week 18 matchup between the Ravens and Bengals is by far the more compelling matchup of the two since it could very well decide who wins the AFC North division title. The Ravens are currently half a game back of the division lead but while they will be facing the middling Steelers in Week 17, the Bengals will host the AFC Superbowl favorite Buffalo Bills. If Josh Allen outduels Joe Burrow and his team prevails, the Ravens could find themselves back on top of the standings heading into the final week of the season.

In the first game between the Ravens and Steelers, Queen had one of his best games of the season in which he tied for the team lead in total tackles with six, broke up a pass, notched a quarterback hit and made an acrobatic play to haul in a leaping interception.

In the Ravens’ first matchup with the Bengals this year, Queen also had a big game with a team-leading seven tackles, a pass breakup, and his first interception of the season on another impressive leaping play.

When Will Lamar Jackson be Back?

The Ravens have been without their unanimous league MVP-winning quarterback since he suffered a sprained knee in Week 13 against the Denver Broncos and in addition to winning that game, they have gone 2-1 in the three games that he has been out. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that whether the team opts to play him over the final few weeks of the regular season could be impacted by playoff scenarios and with the division still in play.

After the Falcons game, head coach John Harbaugh was asked about whether Jackson was close to playing this past week and if clinching a playoff berth affects how they will approach playing him over the final two games of the season. He reiterated that they won’t put any players back on the field until they are cleared to play by the team doctors and will adjust accordingly until they are.

“Lamar is working very hard to get back,” he said in his postgame press conference. “The trainers are working very hard to get him back. I’m optimistic in so many ways, but focused on our team and the next gameplan with who we have, really.”