Sunday, January 9, 2011
Quick Take: Ravens at Steelers
By James Walker
Three things to know about Saturday's Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers divisional game:
1. It's time to settle the score. With similar records, there has been plenty of debate about which AFC North team is better this season, and Steelers-Ravens III will be the deciding factor. Both teams won on the road during the regular season. But Pittsburgh won the tiebreaker with a 5-1 division record, compared to Baltimore's 4-2 mark. That was the only way to separate these teams, which resulted in the Steelers getting a first-round bye and a home playoff game. But now it's time to settle it on the field and put this debate to rest. "I’ve lost to Ben Roethlisberger seven times,’’ Baltimore's Terrell Suggs said of the Steelers' QB. "He’s definitely my biggest problem I’m facing."
2. The Steelers are as healthy and well-rested as they've been in months. Pittsburgh ended the regular season with a lot of bumps and bruises to starters but took advantage of the bye week. Pro Bowlers Troy Polamalu (Achilles) and Maurkice Pouncey (stinger) were among the key starters banged up. Polamalu has played in only one game since Dec. 12, a 41-9 victory against the Cleveland Browns in the regular-season finale. Pittsburgh starting defensive end Aaron Smith, who had triceps surgery in October, also has a chance to return.
3. Lately, Baltimore's defense is playing at a Super Bowl level. In the past two games, the Ravens have forced an astounding 10 turnovers and held their opponents to 14 total points. Of those 10 turnovers, Baltimore has forced five fumbles and five interceptions. The Ravens are very hard to beat when their defense is this dominant. That also takes pressure off the Ravens' offense, which has been up and down this season.