- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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A week ago, the poll voters in the AFC North selected the Steelers as the overwhelming favorite to win the AFC North. Now, the Steelers aren't the favorites to beat the Ravens on Sunday night, according to a poll this week. The loss of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has obviously resulted in a loss of confidence in Pittsburgh.
Of the 7,725 votes in the SportsNation poll, 59 percent picked the Ravens to beat the Steelers. The Ravens have won in their past two regular-season trips to Heinz Field, but the Steelers have won 12 of their past 13 home games.
Here are selected predictions from the AFC North mailbag:
Ravenous128 from Columbia, Md.: No Ben, no way for the Steelers. The Ravens will stack the box and force Byron Leftwich to beat them. Given his mobility and delivery issues, the odds of this appear to be long. Ravens 27, Steelers 17.
Garrett from Pennsylvania: Steelers keep it close at home, but without Roethlisberger, they just don't have enough offense and lose in the last few minutes. Ravens 21, Steelers 16.
David from Dayton, Ohio: I think the whole world thinks the Steelers have no chance. When the whole world goes one way in a rivalry game, it usually goes the other way. Steelers 19, Ravens 13.
Mark from Chico, Calif.: Ravens defense is to slow and old for our remodeled running offense. Steelers offensive line has been improving through the year. The player to watch for is Ray Rice. He kills the Steelers everytime they play one another. Hopefully, they have recognized that and will be ready with a healthy and fast secondary, Steelers will be able to stop Rice. Steelers 17 Ravens 10.
Mark from Baltimore: The Steelers defense will outperform the Ravens, but there's a much higher chance of a crucial turnover from Leftwich than Flacco. Ravens 17, Steelers 13.
John from Wilmington, N.C.: I'm a huge Ravens fan (my dog is named Ray Lewis). With some trepidation, I am picking the Ravens to win. They have been terrible on the road, and even with the Steelers being without Big Ben, they seem to be peaking. But the Ravens and Steelers always play each other tough and I think the Ravens are finally getting used to life without Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb. Ravens 21, Steelers 17.
Adrian I. from Baltimore: If Big Ben's season is over, the Steelers are finished. Pittsburgh is very good at home and their defense appears to be hitting it's stride, but I don't think they have a shot with Byron "Statue" Leftwich at the helm. I expect "Sizzle" to record two sacks and a heavy dose of Flacco to Torrey Smith in this one. Ravens 24, Steelers 16.
Brandon from Sykesville, Md.: The Ravens were going to win this game whether Big Ben played or not. Now that he is out they will just win by a bigger margin. The Ravens speed at wide receiver in Torrey Smith, and Jacoby Jones will test the likes of the number 1 pass defense. They'll connect on enough passes over the top to open up lanes for Ray Rice. The defense will shut down the running game by getting a healthy Haloti Ngata back and Courtney Upshaw beginning to play well. They will force Leftwhich to beat them, ultimately forcing a few turnovers. Ravens 24, Steelers 13.
Lindsay from Oakland, Md.: The Steelers will win because their defense is superior in most areas to the Ravens. They need the game much more than Baltimore because they are one game behind and are aware that their chances of beating the Ravens in two weeks in Baltimore are far worse. They were looking ahead against Kansas City and will now give it their all in this game. Baltimore has also played poorly on the road and this will be their most difficult road to date. Steelers 17, Ravens 13.
A week ago, the poll voters in the AFC North selected the Steelers as the overwhelming favorite to win the AFC North. Now, the Steelers aren't the favorites to beat the Ravens on Sunday night, according to a poll this week.