BALTIMORE — With an opportunity to knock out the Steelers in the AFC North race Sunday, the Ravens are looking to win their 13th consecutive division game, which would be the longest streak since the NFL’s 2002 divisional realignment.
Baltimore only needs a victory to clinch their fifth straight trip to the postseason, and a win coupled with a Bengals loss in San Diego would give the Ravens their second consecutive division title. Meanwhile, a third consecutive loss for the Steelers would put their playoff hopes in jeopardy with injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger still sidelined with an injured throwing shoulder.
Sunday marks the 34th regular-season meeting between the Ravens and the Steelers as Pittsburgh holds an 18-15 edge and a 3-0 mark in the playoffs. A win would give the Ravens four straight regular-season victories over their biggest rival for the first time in franchise history.
Starting inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe is inactive, meaning defensive coordinator Dean Pees will use a combination of Brendon Ayanbadejo, Albert McClellan, and Josh Bynes next to Jameel McClain. All three players took reps at the Will linebacker spot this week as Ellerbe was sidelined with an ankle injury suffered against the Chargers in Week 12.
The Ravens will also be without tight end Ed Dickson, who is still recovering from a sprained knee suffered last week in San Diego. That means increased duties for Dennis Pitta and third-string tight end Billy Bajema in the blocking game.
Veteran guard Bobbie Williams is active for the first time since Week 10, but second-year lineman Jah Reid is expected to start. Defensive end Pernell McPhee is also active after missing the last four games with knee and thigh injuries.
Veteran cornerback Chris Johnson is also inactive, meaning Chykie Brown will handle cornerback duties in the nickel package as Corey Graham slides inside to cover the slot receiver.
In addition to Roethlisberger, the Steelers are without outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, right tackle Mike Adams, and backup quarterback Byron Leftwich. Veteran Charlie Batch will start behind center and the recently-signed Brian Hoyer will serve in a No. 2 capacity.
Former starting running back Rashard Mendenhall is also listed as inactive despite not appearing on the injury report. He was demoted on the depth chart to the No. 3 running back spot on the depth chart this week.
As expected, safety Troy Polamalu and wide receiver Antonio Brown make their respective returns to action after being sidelined with injuries.
The Ravens are wearing their black alternate jerseys while Pittsburgh wears their white tops and gold pants for this one.
Here are today’s inactives …
LB Dannell Ellerbe
TE Ed Dickson
CB Jimmy Smith
CB Chris Johnson
OL Ramon Harewood
WR Deonte Thompson
DT Bryan Hall
QB Ben Roethlisberger
LB LaMarr Woodley
QB Byron Leftwich
OT Mike Adams
CB DeMarcus Van Dyke
RB Rashard Mendenhall
WR Jerricho Cotchery
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