Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers is a narrative making game
The Baltimore Ravens clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers is a big one. It will write the narrative for the rest of the 2020 NFL season:
The Baltimore Ravens walked into the season as the favorite to win the AFC North. If the Ravens do win the division it will be their third straight year with the crown. The Ravens had the 2019 NFL MVP with Lamar Jackson and the AFC’s best record last season. This started as and still is a Super Bowl or bust season for the purple and black.
The Pittsburgh Steelers came into the season as a dark horse in the AFC. They just missed the playoffs last year but that was without their starting quarterback. Now, the yellow and black are undefeated, with a great defense and their future Hall of Fame quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger is playing like Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers are thinking of an AFC North championship, a number one seed and maybe even a Super Bowl.
If the Ravens win this game they takeover first place in the AFC North. If they lose this game they get their second loss, and the Steelers make a very commanding case for being the best team in the AFC.
This is a story telling game. It’s worth noting that the Ravens and Steelers will meet again on Thanksgiving and this is just the halfway point in the season. The story this game tells may prove to be an overreaction yet the results will feel glorious or all too heavily depressing the second the game is over.
If the Ravens win this, they can shed the notion that this team can’t win big games. It could be a season defining moment that spurs on a special run. Remember the Ravens barely scraped by the Steelers last season and it was all that it took to get the Ravens on a 12 game win streak. The Ravens know what winning this game could do for them.
If the Ravens lose this, the idea that they can’t win the big games that really matter is a concept that isn’t going away. If the Ravens lose this one, nobody is ever going to trust them to show up the way they need to in a big moment. If they Ravens lose this one, there will be finger pointing at John Harbaugh, Lamar Jackson and inevitably Greg Roman.
The Chiefs game was thought to be the biggest game of the season. Then it happened. Jackson had one of his worst games and the Ravens defense had no answers for Patrick Mahomes. The Ravens can’t have that kind of a moment hit them again. They can’t have another big game disappointment and still be talked about as Super Bowl contenders. Jackson can’t have another game like he did against the Chiefs if he wants to avoid merciless scrutiny.
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If the Ravens win this they are contenders that have to be taken seriously. If the Steelers win they’ll feel almost invincible. Let’s be real the New York Giants and Denver Broncos weren’t going to take the Steelers down. However if the Steelers go through Browns, Titans and Ravens in consecutive weeks that’s three straight victories over five win teams. That’s an accomplishment on par with last year’s Ravens.
Should the Steelers win this game they could be very hard to catch. After their bout with Baltimore they have games against the Dallas Cowboys, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Then it’s a Holiday fight with the Ravens followed by games against The Washington Football Team, the Buffalo Bills, and the Bengals again. How many losses did you count for Pittsburgh in there? Exactly. Somebody has to hand the Steelers some L’s and it has to be Baltimore. Maybe the Bills can help the Ravens out here, but the Steelers have an incredibly favorable schedule. Baltimore can’t let them get a lead.
The Ravens are going into a much tougher portion of their slate. The Ravens have the Colts after the Steelers. The trip to Indianapolis is followed by a Sunday Night Football game against the New England Patriots and a home game against the Titans. Taking first place in the division is a huge opportunity especially considering the fact that Pittsburgh has a less bumpy path, at least on paper.
In a great game, both teams could come out looking great. If the game is an instant classic (which these games tend to be) it could come off as a potential AFC Championship game. If the Ravens win we’ll wonder if they can eventually get past the Kansas City Chiefs. If the Steelers win, they don’t necessarily have the same hurdles to get over when it comes to Kansas City. If Pittsburgh wins expect people to be debating how a playoff meeting of the Chiefs and Steelers would go.
The Bottom Line:
This game is the game that will shape how people see the AFC. The Ravens need to keep their top level contender status alive. The Steelers need to prove that they are the team to beat in the AFC North. Both teams have a ton on the line in this game.
This is a narrative building game. It’s the game everybody wants to see. It’s the game that will decide the momentum of the toughest division in the NFL.