NFL Playoffs 2011 Steelers vs. Ravens: Who Prevails in Pittsburgh?

Tom EdringtonSenior Writer IJanuary 12, 2011

Willl Troy Polamalu make the game-winning play for Pittsburgh?
Willl Troy Polamalu make the game-winning play for Pittsburgh?Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens: It's one of those battles you cannot get enough of, and now there will be a third version of this AFC North mayhem.

Too bad there's not a betting line for BEST playoff game of the weekend, because this one is money.

This latest edition of We Don't Like Each Other and We Want To Bury the Other Guy will be up first, and these Steelers and Ravens are the poster guys for the "Offense Sells Tickets; Defense Wins Championships" mantra.

Everyone thinks it was Bear Bryant who said that, but it was actually a guy named Dave Thorson.

Whoever did say it could have had these teams in mind, which brings us to the next question: Who prevails in Pittsburgh as the cold air of Saturday afternoon becomes the even colder air of Saturday night at Heinz Field?

First, let's not jump on that "whoever has the toughest defense" train. Both these defenses are tough. They could be 1-A and 1-B in the NFL, and they can trade the A and B on any particular Sunday.

No, someone's offense will have to find a way to score one more point than the other team's offense. It's that simple, yet that complicated.

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So now you're eyeballing the quarterbacks, right?

Steelers fans can point out that in the early season home loss to these nasty Ravens, Big Ben Roethlisberger was absent, serving a four-game suspension. The Steelers needed a first down late in the game to run out the clock, but couldn't get it.

So stare at Roethlisberger and his counterpart, Joe Flacco.

The Steelers' playoff resume makes this process very simple, perhaps. They have NEVER lost to a division rival in the playoffs since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970.

Never is a long time, four decades in this case, and you'd think that the law of averages has to kick in sooner or later.

A three-point spread isn't much of a spread, and that's what the Steelers are favored by.

Upset? It wouldn't be a major one except to those Steelers fans twirling those Terrible Towels.

If it's going to happen, then Flacco will need help. He'll need a career day from his offensive line, a huge day from his receivers and yes, Ray Rice will have to find a way to get through that Steelers defense. Rice did it this year, as he was the first guy in 50 games to run for 100 yards on them.

These Steelers will be back at full strength, with the bye week benefiting Hines Ward, James Farrior and Troy Polamalu.

Will this be the game where a fluke play determines the outcome? There's always the possibility. But odds are this will be the best game of the weekend.

Who wins?

How about the Steelers, in overtime? This would be first game to go to overtime under the new rules.

In the end, the defense wins it, because defenses do win championships, right?

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