The Baltimore Ravens vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers has become one of the more fierce rivalries in the NFL. Their games are hard-fought, physical battles that are expected to determine the victor in one of the league's more competitive divisions.
Unfortunately, Ben Roethlisberger could miss both games this season, handing the AFC North to the Ravens almost by default.
Steelers have officially ruled out QB Ben Roethlisberger, S Troy Polamalu, WR Antonio Brown and T Marcus Gilbert.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 16, 2012
Normally fans would expect Roethlisberger to rub some dirt on his shoulder and be back in the game. But this injury is different, as the rib issue poses a real threat to his health.
It is never a good idea to take things for granted in the NFL. Upsets happen with frequency and the Steelers can certainly rally to overcome the loss of their Pro Bowl quarterback.
However, Roethlisberger is the identity of Pittsburgh's offense. They've spent the summer and first half of the season getting him acclimated to their new offense.
The Steeler ground game has struggled with injuries this year, making it all the easier to lean on the passing game.
While Roethlisberger has thrown 17 touchdown passes and thrown for almost 2,300 yards, the team has just four rushing scores and under 1,000 yards on the ground. The leading rusher is Jonathan Dwyer with 355 yards.
Can the Steelers beat the Ravens without Roethlisberger?
Neither the ground game nor passing efforts were working against the Kansas City Chiefs after Roethlisberger was knocked out of the game. The game ended up in overtime where an early interception gave the Steelers the ball in field goal territory.
Baltimore is struggling with injury issues of their own. However, facing Byron Leftwich will allow the Ravens to pressure the quarterback and react to the quarterback's slow delivery.
Pittsburgh will need to lean on its ground game. The Ravens' defense has given up some yardage this season, ranking 26th with 132.0 yards per game.
But the Ravens offense can put up points of their own. The Steelers will need more than a ground game against a team that will likely stack the box and challenge Leftwich to beat them with his arm.
Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks.