When the NFL schedule was released, Steelers and Ravens fans alike were shocked that these two AFC powerhouses would not meet until this late in the season. It does make some sense, building the anticipation for the battle.
Not only that, but this late in the season, the games would take on more meaning. With two games left to play in the last six, these two teams would have to win to earn their playoff rights.
Although that remains true, it is not the AFC North crown they will be fighting for. Cincinnati already has a strangle hold on that. The Steelers and Ravens will be battling for the wild card, and maybe both.
When the Steelers visit Baltimore on Sunday night, in the match up Ravens fans spent the off season hoping for, at home, in prime time, are they getting what they had hoped for? I don't think so.
Most Ravens fans looking at the Steelers injury report would normally be ecstatic. Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, Aaron Smith, Chris Kemoeatu, and Charlie Batch have all been ruled out for the Sunday matchup.
In addition, Travis Kirschke is questionable and may not play.
Normally, this would shoot the odds of the Ravens through the roof. With second year pro Dennis Dixon making his first career start, even though he was the third stringer just six days ago, the Ravens defense, one of the best in the league, would eat him alive.
Though their injury report is not as bad as the Steelers, some of the names on the Ravens report give Steelers fans some hope that they have a chance.
Terrell Suggs is listed as doubtful, along with Ed Reed and Ray Lewis as questionable. Lewis is still expected to play, but will be slowed down by a foot injury. Reed has some undisclosed illness along with a foot injury as well.
Either way, this game is still important to both teams wild card chances, even if it is the JV playing.