The Pittsburgh Steelers are a constant thorn in the Ravens side. The two teams have combined to win all but 2 of the division titles since the Divisions were realigned early in the decade and the two teams have accounted for 3 superbowls since 2000. The road to the AFC North perpetually goes through the other team and 2012 is no different. It looked like the Steelers might be in for a down year early in the season. They were missing their 2 best defenders, their starting running back and their best WR was fresh off a hold out and didnt quite look like himself. The Steelers quickly found themselves in a 2 game hole in the division race, but they have bounced back and narrowed the gap to one game thanks to a 3 game win streak and a Ravens loss in Houston.
Come Sunday these two teams will face off in the first of two head to head games that will likely decide the winner of the division and maybe a first round bye and home field advantage in the playoffs. If the either team sweeps both head to heads, they will almost certainly win the division, but if the teams split, the Ravens will have a leg up thanks to their better record right now.
The Ravens have very good odds of capturing a second straight division crown, but they could always use a little help. Tonight the Steelers will suit up to face the chiefs and they will probably win. The Chiefs aren’t very good, the game is in Pittsburgh etc, etc. But if the chiefs do win, the Ravens would take a commanding lead in the division, and they would have a chance to seize almost certain control with a win Sunday. If the Chiefs won the Steelers would then be 5-4 compared to the Ravens 7-2. that is a two game lead. were the Ravens to also win sunday, that would drop the Steelers to 5-5 and elevate the Ravens to 8-2. that would be a 3 game lead, with a head to head(in pittsburgh), a undefeated division record and only 6 games left to play with a chance to put the nail firmly in the Steelers coffin in three weeks when they play in baltimore.
Now, don’t confuse this with me getting way ahead of myself and counting my chickens before they hatch. I’m certainly not banking on the 1-7 chiefs to beat a Pittsburgh team that is rolling. I am just examining the situation the Ravens and Steelers are in and determining that were the Steelers to lose tonight, the Ravens would be one enormous step closer to winning the AFC North. Also, not to put to fine of a point on it, but the Chiefs actually have the tools to beat the Steelers.
Jamaal Charles has looked great this year and had a solid game against Pittsburgh as a rookie. The Chiefs have played the Steelers twice since 2009, they split those two games and the one the Steelers won, they only managed a 13-9 4 point victory. The Chiefs D and specifically Brandon Flowers and Tamba Hali have given the Steelers fits recently. Neither player has shown up big on the stat sheet, but both guys have been disruptive forces and not allowed the Steelers offense to get going. It is a very long shot for the Chiefs to win, but I know I will have my fingers crossed for that to happen…how about you?