steelers-ravens

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Steelers-Ravens has been supplanted by 49ers-Seahawks as the NFL’s fiercest and most overhyped rivalry. Between teams, that is. Manning-Brady is still the most overhyped rivalry period. Either way, it makes it kind of pathetic that NBC has to rely on the INTENSE RIVALRY aspect of this game as the means to promote it.

Don’t get me wrong – the Steelers and Ravens hate each other plenty. I can attest to that. As an asshole Stiller fan, nothing would please me more than the Steelers sweeping the Ravens and throwing their playoff hopes in, if not complete jeopardy, then serious doubt.

But I can’t expect the average fan to be riveted by this rivalry right now. Sure, the games are typically close but the quality of play isn’t as strong. It was one thing when both teams were serious contenders and boasted defenses among the best in the league. Then, even if the score wasn’t high, you saw a game dictated by the defense, something that’s becoming more and more of a rarity in the NFL.

Nevertheless, playoff consideration figure in the proceedings tonight. At 5-6, the Steelers and the Ravens are ensconced in the great middle ground of the AFC that might or might not get to the postseason. Pittsburgh has gone 5-2 since starting 0-4. This might make some wonder if the team has turned a corner into respectability. Let me assure you they have not. Put a team playing well in front of them and they will surely wilt. Just go look at when they played New England.

Lucky for the Steelers that the Ravens aren’t a team playing all that well. Baltimore got a convincing win at home Sunday over the Jets, which was encouraging even if it made Joe Flacco complain about the Wildcat being used. Beyond that, however, they’re all over the place. At home, against their biggest rivalry, you would assume the Ravens would have their best showing, but you can’t count on it.