The battle between rivals Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the regular season finale lost a little luster when the Ravens announced that several starters would sit the game out with the team having already clinched the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. The Steelers still have a chance to clinch a wild-card spot and will try to take advantage of the absences when they visit Baltimore on Sunday.
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The Ravens will keep quarterback and MVP candidate Lamar Jackson on the sidelines along with running back Mark Ingram II, guard Marshall Yanda, safety Earl Thomas, defensive tackle Brandon Williams and others, but the team still intends to go for the win. "It's a rivalry game. It's the Steelers," Baltimore coach John Harbaugh told reporters. "They have everything to play for. We recognize that, and we'll be looking to put our absolute best foot forward and play our best football game with the guys that we'll be playing with." The Steelers surrendered control of their own destiny when they suffered a 16-10 loss to the New York Jets last week and now need a win and some help to earn a wild-card spot. "We're hoping and wishing again, like last year," Pittsburgh linebacker Bud Dupree told reporters. "Waiting on guys to lose. We just shouldn't be in that situation. We had opportunities early in the season. ... Even with all the adversity we've been through the whole year, we still had control of our own destiny. And we failed that."
TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Steelers -2 O/U: 38
ABOUT THE STEELERS (8-7): Pittsburgh will give Devlin "Duck" Hodges another start at quarterback on Sunday after Mason Rudolph was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Hodges got the start against the Jets last week but was pulled in favor of Rudolph in the second quarter due to ineffectiveness and owns one touchdown pass and six interceptions over the last two games. "We have to take care of the football," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told reporters. "You can make a bad decision but a ridiculously awesome throw, and (the decision) is irrelevant. I mean that in all sincerity. We have to take care of the football and some of that minutiae is less important, about intentions relative to performance."
ABOUT THE RAVENS (13-2): Baltimore is balancing rest versus rust in its decision to sit key players and didn't have to think long about the choice to sit Jackson and others. "It's not a hard decision really, if you sit back and think about it," Harbaugh told reporters. "It's a solid decision. ... There's a strong case to be made either way. I really recognize the other side of it. I think like it's a fair and valid case and it's real. You just got to balance it out between two good choices really." Robert Griffin III will take over for Jackson at quarterback while Ingram, who suffered a calf injury in last week's 31-15 triumph at Cleveland, will make use of two straight weeks off and vows to be ready for the postseason.
1. Ravens RB Gus Edwards is expected to start in place of Ingram.
2. Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey (knee) is not expected to play while RB James Conner (quad) is doubtful.
3. Baltimore earned a 26-23 overtime win at Pittsburgh on Oct. 6.