How Important Is The Ravens Vs. Steelers Season Opener?

There’s been a lot of talk about the Week 1 game between the Ravens and Steelers. Some argue that the game is being overhyped and it is just another game. Others will say it is the most important game of the whole season. There’s validity to both statements, but one is more right that the other.

The Steelers have dominated this rivalry over the past few years. The Ravens have not been able to find the formula to beat them and this has usually cost them. Baltimore has not won the AFC North since 2006. The past three years, the Ravens have come in second in the division and earned a wildcard. This can be attributed to their lack of success agaisnt the Pittsburgh Steelers. They’ve been neck and neck going into the last few weeks for the past couple of seasons, but the Steelers always find a way to come out on top. It’s costed the Ravens inumerable times. While the Steelers rested up during an extra bye week, the Ravens traveled half way across the country to take on another team. I honestly can not see the Ravens make it to the Superbowl as a fifth or sixth seed so that means they have to win their division.

Most would agree that the Ravens and the Steelers are each others biggest competition in the AFC North so beating them is a must. 1.The ultimate goal is to win the Superbowl 2.To increase you chances of getting there, win the division 3. To win the division, beat your biggest opponant. The formula is simple but easier said than done.

But I still haven’t answered why this game is particular is so important. Well, for multiple reasons. The obvious has already been stated, but there are more under the surface:

1. Momentum

The winner of this game will carry a lot of momemtum with them for the weeks to come. Beating your biggest division rival during the season opener is something to be proud of. A win will make the team stronger as a unit and will remove some offseason doubts. Think about how much of a relief it would be to know that you’ve beaten your biggest rival and at worst you’ll split the two games with them.

2. Win/Loss Record

Because this monumental game is in week 1, the winner will have a one win advantage in the division and the loser will be playing catchup. Although a one game lead is not much in the NFL, it will provide a small cushion in a tight AFC North race that won’t be decided until the final weeks of the season.

3. Morale

Every football game is draining but none are anything like a Ravens/Steelers matchup. Putting so much into a game mentally and physically and than still coming out with a loss is something that is hard to bounce back from. While this is not a huge factor, it is still something to keep in mind. No team wants to hear the bashing that the media will provide to the losing team in the following week.

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  • ltilley

    I don’t see this game as a must-win. Psychologically, if the Ravens win, they’ll be unstoppable the rest of the season. They will have the momentum like you said. However, they still have another game against the Steelers, 4 others against the rest of the division, and 15 others total. Even if the Steelers win Sunday, say they lose a game or two against an opponent that the Ravens don’t lose against, then it doesn’t really matter. Obviously it’s huge to win this but the season isn’t down the drain if they don’t. Like I said in my season preview thing, their last two games of the season are against bad teams in their division. That’s super lucky for them in case it’s a tight race (which of course it will be)

  • EbonyBird

    I don’t think the season will be down the drain but it will definitley be harder to climb out of the valley that a loss to the Steelers in week 1 would put them in. I can’t see the Ravens getting anywhere near the superbowl as a wildcard or without a home playoff game and beating the Steelers is the first step to passing those obstacles. Their best chance to beat them is at home and that’s why this opportunity can not be missed. The media also plays a role in it whether you believe it or not. If the Ravens lose on Sunday then the media will tear them apart and remove them as superbowl contenders while putting the Steelers up on a pedestal. While I don’t think a loss removes them as superbowl contenders, the media will be sure to speak their opinion. The media can change the vibe and opinion of a team and fan base just like that. There’s more that goes into a game than x’s and o’s and this is a perfect example of that.

  • chrisp.1metal

    This game is going to decide who is the big dawg in the AFC North for the rest of the year. It’s a min-Playoff game, if you ask me. There, I’m not dancing around here.

  • ltilley

    @EbonyBird I’m not saying that this game isn’t important but you can’t see them getting anywhere near the superbowl without a home playoff game? Do you not remember 3 years ago when they went to the AFC championship game as a wild card without a home playoff game? That seems pretty damn close to the superbowl to me. And the media will tear the Ravens apart if they lose on Sunday???? What??!! ESPN drools off the Ravens and Steelers and when they play together they love it even more. The media have NEVER torn a team down for losing this game or put them on a pedestal for winning. Ever. Ever. Ever. And even if they did, you honestly think any team in the NFL lets that sort of stuff bother them?? No. If anything it motivates them even more to prove the media and everyone wrong.

  • EbonyBird

    Realistically, I just don’t see Flacco taking out some of the AFC’s heavy hitters on the road in the playoffs this year. The team of three years ago is three years gone and that particular Ravens team was built for cold playoff games in hostile environments. The defense back then had much less holes and the running game was something to be scared of. Since then, I’ve lost much more confidence in the defense and our running attack has lost its swagger. The team of today has the same fundamentals but is built completely different with many more exploitable holes.

    As for the media, anyone I’ve ever talked to has agreed with me on how the media usually praises the Steelers and puts down the Ravens (probably because of a larger Steeler fan base). I’ve heard time and time again the Flacco bashing and criticism of the Ravens D through various media outlets. The media definitely praises the game itself (How couldn’t you?) but doesn’t hold back when it comes to the results and each team’s future.

    You can say that a NFL team isn’t affected by media but they definitely are whether it’s positively or negatively. You’re right that many are motivated by it but you don’t think Joe Flacco is bothered by everyone saying he can’t beat Roethlisberger? Younger players are more susceptible to it but believe me when I say that athletes at all levels highschool, college,and professional are affected by it in some way or another. It’s human nature to respond to criticism and how you respond is what separates an average athlete to a legendary one. So far, Joe Flacco has not responded well to his Steelers criticism and that’s why he is still considered an average player by many. If the Ravens were that motivated to prove everyone wrong, then they would have beaten the Steelers by now. Football is more of a mental game than anything and history has taught us that a strong will to win will beat the bigger, better team every time.