One of the most hotly anticipated games of the NFL season—and certainly the most interesting of this week—is happening tonight in Pittsburgh as the Steelers and Ravens faceoff at Heinz Field at 8:20 p.m. (TV: NBC).
Steelers fans have been salivating over this game since the Week 1 beating in Baltimore, where the Ravens dismantled Pittsburgh 35-7 in a rare blowout game between these two bitter rivals. The team's players and staff have also been waiting for tonight, a chance to finally exorcise the demons of that loss and to exert dominance over their fiercest divisional opponent.
For the Ravens, this game is about many things.
First, it's about continuing to beat Pittsburgh, a team that they've had difficulty solving since Ben Roethlisberger first took the field for the Black and Gold. Baltimore is also trying to get back on track after some very sub-par performances against poor teams.
This should be an interesting, closely contested game. The Week 1 blowout was, as I said, a rarity in this rivalry, which is almost always punctuated by one-score games and late field goals. Right now, the Steelers appear to have the edge.
You can throw the conventional wisdom and rules of engagement out the window once the first ball is kicked off.
A few things to watch for tonight:
1. Ben Roethlisberger's performance. He's been solid lately, but had five turnovers in their Week 1 loss to Baltimore. What he does tonight will determine the course of the game.
2. Defensive work for both teams. This is a chess match. Which defense, both of whom have some question marks from injuries or ineffectiveness, shows up best will also determine a lot of the result.
3. Joe Flacco. He's been on again and off again as an effective quarterback this season. He's going to have to make some plays in this game if the Ravens hope to be victorious.