This year’s NFL schedule has a new wrinkle. To combat elite teams benching players in the last few games of the regular season, the NFL overloaded the second half of the schedule divisional head to heads. The result, we get three stellar ones this weekend.
- Falcons at Buccaneers
- Steelers at Ravens
- Jets at Patriots
These are all fine games (Falcons Bucs game being wrongly ignored) but the game that I can speak personally on is the Steelers Ravens. Everyone’s heard the rhetoric. The hardest hitting teams, slobberknocker, blue collar, throw the records out, play the game the way it’s meant to be played, etc… Whatever, I just know that these are historically close games.
I’m not the first one to tell you this but these two teams are so similar it’s ridiculous. The have the same personalities (almost at the same positions). A couple examples; Rice to Mendenhall, Suggs to Harrison, Reed to Polomalu, and Boldin to Ward. They are built to play each other. It’s not a fluke. In fact I think it’s common knowledge that the Ravens use the Steelers franchise as a measuring stick.
Ravens Steelers week hits on two polar opposites. On the one hand, when the Steelers come to town it is the most exciting week of the season. On the other hand, the actual game itself is normally feels like a three hour punch to the gut. But that’s my problem. I take it way to serious. I just hate the Steelers.
I hate everything about their team. Don’t get me wrong, they run a fine organization, tops in the league. The have one of the best owners, one of the top three head coaches, and consistently turn no names players into stars. And who can argue with the rings? I just hate them. Respect them, but hate everything about them.
I’d love to take this time and pick apart their players. Tell you about their behavior on and off the field, but then there is the whole glass houses/stone throwing thing. I have no delusions that the Raven’s are a couple of alter boys.
This week both teams kept it really classy. Instead of stirring the pot with smack talk it was much more of a “No, you’re awesomer” contest. Regardless of how things play out on the field, I do think there is mutual respect between these teams. Check this quote from a Peter King article where he interviews Pittsburgh’s safety Ryan Clark.
"Hatred is a strong word. I don’t particularly hate them. In fact, the ultimate respect I can give them is if I couldn’t play for Pittsburgh, I’d want to play for Baltimore."
Maybe this has to do with the fact the Steelers biggest rivals are no longer the Ravens. The news I’ve read this week makes me think that the league itself are the Steelers biggest rivals.
Whatever the case, tonight’s game means a lot. There is a lot at stake. As long as the rest of the season carries on as usual, the winner of this game will most likely earn a first round bye and a home game in the playoffs. The loser will most likely fall back to the wild card. Pretty big for a week 13 game. If history repeats itself, this game should be memorable.