Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens visit the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game that means more than the usual clash between the teams. In addition to bragging rights, the winner of the game will keep themselves in the divisional race, and by extension, the playoff race.
Now to be clear, the Ravens will maintain touch with the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North win or lose, but each loss within the AFC North hurts their chances to gain the tiebreaker over the Bengals or the Steelers. While a loss to the Steelers won’t bounce the Ravens from the playoff race, it certainly deals a major blow that could be difficult to overcome as the season wears on.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are in a much more vulnerable place simply because their time for action is now. At 1-4, Pittsburgh has plenty of ground to make up in just over a half season to get into the playoffs. Because this is a divisional matchup, it is a must-win game. It’s an opportunity for the Steelers to not only win a game, but to deal a loss to a divisional rival.
To say that this will be a hard-nosed game would be an understatement. Both these teams are known for playing great defense and attacking through the air, and for the Ravens, running the ball down opponents’ throats.
Physical games such as these can often result in a heavy injury toll as well, something neither team involved can afford. The goal here isn’t to simply win the game, it’s also to escape the game with as little lingering ill effects as possible.
Every season, the two divisional matchups between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens get circled on every football fan’s calendar. This is one of those matchups that you don’t have to have a team to root for. It’s a game of great, smash-mouth football. Usually, this matchup determines which team wins the AFC North and which team is left to fight for a wildcard slot, but this year it’s all about staying in the hunt versus being left by the wayside. It’s a new twist on an old matchup that takes nothing away from the anticipation of one of the best matchups of the year.