Ahhh yes, it is that time of year again. The best time of year. The time of year where it is time for the best rivalry in the NFL to take center stage. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's that time again: the Baltimore Ravens against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a brutal, heavyweight, in-division fight- the impact of this game will be felt early and often down the line.
If the Ravens win, they are suddenly 3-1, including 2-1 on the road, and 2-1 in division- sitting pretty atop the AFC North in a 3-way tie with the Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals.
If the Steelers win, they are suddenly 4-0 without suspended star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger- a turn of events that almost nobody outside Steeler Country predicted in the preseason.
Crucially, this game will occur at Heinz Field, where those annoying yellow towels will be making an impact on the game.
Despite Cincinnati's victory over Baltimore two weeks ago, I would make the case that the winner of this game is suddenly in the driver's seat in the division, as Cincinnati's offense has yet to really take flight this season.
Games against the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers excepted, the same has held true for both Pittsburgh and Baltimore, but the two rivals can each lay claim to the best defense in the NFL: the Ravens are No. 1 in total yards allowed, while the Steelers are No. 1 in points allowed.
Anyone who projects something other than a defensive slugfest is delusional. The keys to this game can be found within.