Week 9: Steelers vs. Ravens Statistical Preview

Looking at the title and seeing that you’re about to read a preview of the Steelers vs. the Ravens, I’m sure you’re thinking “He’ll probably use the phrase ‘physical, hard-nosed football’ about twenty times.” Well, you’re wrong. This will be all about the advanced stats and what they tell us about the matchup. For the curious, here’s a recap of last week’s win over the Patriots. There are two links below: the Advanced NFL Stats win probability graph/box score and QuantCoach’s coaching stats for the week.

Steelers 25, Patriots 17
Coaching Stats

Ben Roethlisberger was the best player on the field in terms of both Win Probability Added and Expected Points Added, with 0.42 and 9.7, respectively. Heath Miller was second in both with 0.26 and 6.5. Overall, though, the offense wasn’t quite as good as you’d expect, especially factoring in the Patriots mediocre pass defense. The fact that Shaun Suisham kicked three FGs means that the Steelers could very well have made this game a blowout. Willie Gay led the defense in WPA with 0.14, a much better performance than last year’s game, and showing that it’s not profitable to throw to Gay Island (Hey, did you know you can buy “Gay Island” shirts? Oh, you did? Cool). Rob Gronkowski had the best WPA performance for New England with 0.22, and Gary Guyton’s second-quarter INT of Ben gave him the best EPA performance, with 4.3.

You probably don’t need coaching stats to tell you that it was a masterful job on both sides of the ball, but especially on defense. Anytime you hold Tom Brady to under six yards per pass attempt, it’s a great game.

Click through for the Steelers-Ravens preview!

Steelers vs. Ravens

Football Outsiders


Total DVOA


Weighted DVOA






Special Teams
























As a reminder, DVOA represents the value on a play-by-play basis above what an average NFL team would provide. So, the Steelers have been 11.5% better than an average NFL team this year. Starting this week, Weighted DVOA no longer includes Football Outsiders’ preseason projections, but weights recent games more.

Baltimore’s 23rd-ranked offense might not surprise you, but the breakdown might. They are 19th in passing DVOA, while just 27th in rushing DVOA. Ray Rice may have good fantasy stats, but a lot of that comes from his heavy involvement in the passing game. Expect that to continue, as the Steelers defense is below average against RBs. On the other side, The Steelers have the eighth-best pass offense and the 13th-best rush offense. The Ravens have the top pass defense and are second in rush defense, but their biggest weaknesses play into the Steelers’ strengths: they are only tenth and eleventh against #1 and #2 WRs, respectively. Look for Mike Wallace and/or Antonio Brown to have big days, as they’ll be targeted early and often. Another big factor in the game: the Ravens’ 30th-ranked special teams. If Brown is going to return a kick for a touchdown, this may be the week.

QuantCoach’s Coaching Stats

The link above goes to the season standings of QuantCoach’s coaching stats (combining offense and defense), which I explained a few weeks ago. The Steelers are still the best-coached team in the NFL, but the Texans are closing in. The Ravens are third in the AFC, as the Patriots fell to fifth after last week.

Advanced NFL Stats

The link goes to Advanced NFL Stats’ team rankings for Week 9. Interestingly, ANS’ overall rankings are almost the opposite of FO’s. The Steelers are fourth overall, ninth on offense, and eighth on defense, while the Ravens are eleventh overall, 16th on offense, and second on defense. Breaking it down further, ANS ranks the Steelers tenth both passing and running, third in pass defense, and 21st in run defense, and the Ravens 21st in pass offense, 25th in rush offense, first in pass defense, and sixth in run defense.

Prediction: Two Physical Teams Playing Hard-Nosed Football.

Being a rivalry game on Sunday night, both defenses will certainly bring more than their typical effort into this game. I don’t expect either team to score on their first possession. That being said, I think both teams will pass early and often. I don’t think any RB will get over 100 yards, unless one team gets a 14-point lead or greater. Being the home team, I think the Steelers have a better chance of that, especially if Brown runs a kick back, which I think he will. This all means one thing: if it’s a battle of the quarterbacks, Ben Roethlisberger beats Joe Flacco every time. Steelers 24, Ravens 13