NFL Thursday Night; Ravens at Steelers

Michael Vick will be under center Thursday night. The Ravens hope his track record over the last three seasons continues. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Ravens at Steelers
Every year there’s the consensus playoff team that goes belly up. Last season the Bears and Saints were both expected to earn playoff berths. The Saints never recovered from a 1-3 start and finished 7-9 (despite residing in a division without a single winning team). The Bears fought their way to 3-3 before collapsing into a 2-8 funk to finish the season. In 2015, the Ravens lead the Eagles and Colts for the unwanted disSTINKtion of most disappointing team. No one expected the Ravens to finish September winless. Yet here are they are, their season on life support with the Steelers ahead on a short week. There’s hope for the Ravens, though, and it starts with Michael Vick.

In his last 18 appearances (16 starts, 2 in relief in which he at least played a full half), Vick is a ghastly 3-15. Vick-led offenses in those 18 outings scored at least 24 points only twice and could muster more than 20 points four times. I love reformed Michael Vick. His 2010 campaign with the Eagles remains one of my favorite seasons, but at 35 years old, those days are long gone.

I do, however, think Vick will serve the Steelers well as a backup. Despite the 3-15 record and offensive struggles, Vick protected the football reasonably well, throwing “only” 9 interceptions. An interception every two games is great for a backup QB. There’s also an argument to be made that Pittsburgh’s offensive weapons around Vick are superior to the ones he had in Philadelphia and New York. But it’ll take time for Vick to gel with Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and Co. This is Vick’s first season in Pittsburgh, too. He’s learning a new offense and facing a desperate team on only four days of preparation.

Vick replacing the injured Ben Roethlisberger could be the lifeline that saves Baltimore’s season. If they can secure their first victory of the year Thursday in Pittsburgh, the Ravens will find the road ahead smoother than the one behind. Over the first four weeks of the season Baltimore’s schedule included three likely playoff teams. Over the next eight weeks, the Ravens will face just one.

There’s life ahead for Baltimore if they can get some momentum and tighten a defense that’s been dissected the past two weeks. I’ve stuck with the Ravens this long, might as well hang around one more week. RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Ravens -3

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