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Thread: NFL Divisional Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Default NFL Divisional Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers

    NFL Divisional Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers

    Saturday, January 15, 2010
    Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers
    Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers

    The third matchup between the Ravens and the Steelers in the 2010 season, will take place this Saturday afternoon. Both of their previous games have been extremely close, with a timely play affecting their respective outcomes. In fact since December of 2007, the regular season results have looked eerily similar. Baltimore has won three of those contests by a total of 12 points, and Pittsburgh has won four times by a total of 13 points, no margin of victory has been greater than 6 points.

    Pittsburgh won their lone playoff game during this stretch, in the 2009 AFC Championship Game, by a score of 23-14. The game was closer than the score indicated, it was decided late in the 4th quarter when Troy Polamalu returned a Joe Flacco interception for a touchdown to seal the win. Despite the history of tight games between these two teams, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Pittsburgh will win, and win big to move on to the AFC Championship Game.

    The oddsmakers have set a field goal as the spread, a number that we’d see for these teams during a regular season matchup. But this is the Divisional Playoffs, and since Pittsburgh attained a 2 seed, they have had a week of rest, where Baltimore is travelling back to the East Coast from Kansas City. This is a critical element to consider, as Coach Mike Tomlin has capitalized on his bye week opportunities since 2007 with a 4-1 record and a +62 point margin.

    The Steelers have the best defense in the AFC, and they play even better at Heinz Field, where they defend the rush at 3.3 yards per carry (vs. 4.2 for Baltimore on the road), while giving up a miniscule 62.8 rushing yards per game (94.8 for Baltimore). We will likely see Pittsburgh control the trenches as they gain 4.3 yards per carry at Heinz, while the Ravens pick up only 3.3 yards per carry away from their home field. Over the last three games, the Steelers have tuned up for the Playoffs, giving up only 207 yards per game at an eye-popping 3.9 yards per play average! Throw in the most dynamic defensive player on the field in Troy Polamalu, one who has literally shifted the outcome of two recent Ravens-Steelers games, and you have to give the Steelers the edge in overall defense.

    The two matchups this year have been fierce, with Baltimore winning in Pittsburgh and vice versa. But there are some factors to keep in mind about Baltimore’s win on the road. Ben Roethlisberger was still serving his suspension when they met in Week 4, and even with backup Charlie Batch at quarterback the Steelers had the control of the game until they gave up two holding penalties on their last drive, which forced them to punt the ball back to Baltimore. A holding penalty on the return gave the Ravens ten extra yards, which set up Flacco’s late TD pass for the win.

    When Pittsburgh played at Baltimore in Week 13, they won by a field goal, and Roethlisberger played through the game through the pain from an injured foot, even after Ravens DL Haloti Ngata broke his nose early in the first quarter. We can easily see the Steelers winning by more than three points, at home, with a healthier Roethlisberger.

    Finally, consider a comparison between the two quarterbacks, Joe and Ben. Joe has a 4-2 Playoff record, with all four wins on the road, but Ben has an 8-2 record. Joe averages 6.01 yards per attempt in the Playoffs, with 3 TD’s and 6 INT’s. Ben averages 8.1 yards per attempt, with 15 TD’s and 12 INT’s in the postseason.

    When both Joe and Ben start the game for their respective teams, Joe has yet to win once, losing all five games. Ben is known for extending plays, giving his team second chances long after most quarterbacks have hit the turf, and for playing through pain. Oh and bye the way, he’s won two SuperBowls. Even with matching 12-4 records, the Steelers are flat-out the better team this year.

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    Default Re: NFL Divisional Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers

    Steelers-Ravens rivalry borne of hatred, respect

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    Hard-hitting rivalry
    Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

    After the Houston Texans' birth as an NFL expansion team in 2000, then-Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell said he wouldn't mind switching from the AFC to the NFC, if the league deemed it necessary.

    "We have no solid, entrenched rivalries of traditional teams we play," Modell said. "I don't mind moving because we can start new relationships."

    Fortunately for fans, the league and orthopedic surgeons, the team stayed put. Imagine, after all, if the Ravens played in one conference and the Steelers another, if during the past decade the franchises had not forged what is considered to be the NFL's most intense, competitive and bone-crunching rivalry.

    There would be no feisty trash talk and inflammatory accusations twice, sometimes three times, yearly. No legalized violence of the type likely to test new NFL rules when the teams meet yet again at 4:30 p.m. today at Heinz Field in an AFC divisional playoff game.

    Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs would not be sporting a T-shirt showing a dirty bird flashing a well-known, single-digit gesture under the words, "Hey, Pittsburgh," as he did this week while talking about what he calls "the best rivalry in sports." There would be no cause for Baltimore coach John Harbaugh to exasperatedly explain he truly did not delight in the breaking of Ben Roethlisberger's nose the last time the teams met.

    Without the clubs as bitter rivals and almost yearly AFC North contenders, the Steelers' Joey Porter never would have attacked Ray Lewis as Lewis (ital) boarded the team bus (ital) after a 2003 game in which Porter did not even play because he was recovering from a gunshot wound to his butt.

    No one would have put a bounty on Hines Ward in '08, and Bart Scott would never have threatened to "kill" Ward during an '07 game.

    Porter would be elsewhere rather than cheap-shotting an already wobbling Ravens tight end Todd Heap in '04. Baltimore's James Trapp kicking receiver Plaxico Burress in the stomach after ripping off his helmet in '02? Forget it.

    Also, the h-word — hate — would not be tossed around like so many penalty flags.

    Before and after these slugfests, fans spray talk shows and the Internet with a high-potency brand of the stuff, and players incessantly are grilled on their level of animosity for their opponents. This week's answers varied, as they always do. Some, like Lewis, the Ravens' decorated middle linebacker, took the coy approach.

    "I like pizza, I like a lot of things," he said the other day with a smile. "There's a lot of things I don't like. And it's OK to use that word, 'like.' It's always good when you don't get the other word."

    This from a player who snapped Rashard Mendenhall's shoulder two years ago, ending the rookie running back's season.

    Ward, the Steelers' veteran receiver who infuriates opponents (like Scott, then a Ravens linebacker) with his zealous blocking, broaches the subject more directly. Almost every year, it seems, the words "pure hatred" spill from his ever-present, killer's smile.

    Linebacker James Farrior, a Steeler since '02, said he hates every opponent on game day. "But this team I especially hate," he said. "And it's no secret they hate us just about the same. That's just a normal word when you talk about the Ravens."


    When the magic word was mentioned, veteran Ravens receiver Derrick Mason laughed.

    "I don't hate Pittsburgh," he said. "They haven't done anything to me. They haven't done anything to my parents or my kids."

    Steelers safety Ryan Clark denied being a hater and said he prefers to let Ravens like Suggs do the talking. "Let (ital) them (ital) build up the rivalry," said Clark, who leveled Ravens running back Willis McGahee with a now-illegal helmet-to-helmet hit two years ago.

    Troy Polamalu, whose well-chronicled spirituality embraces the teachings of a Greek Orthodox monk, is a ferocious hitter. But he has no room in his heart for hatred. Instead, he defines the rivalry as a more of a "chess match" focused on field position and limiting turnovers, of avoiding the mistake that could determine the outcome.

    "In that way it's the truest essence of what football is about," said Polamalu, who is linked with Baltimore's Ed Reed as the best safeties of their time.

    No one denies that these games are special. Even Polamalu said the tone of a preseason game with the Ravens would likely be that of a game that counts.

    "The last few times we've played them it always comes down to close games, and when you're in games like that, it's very emotional," said Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton, completing his 10th season with the Steelers. "You learn to start disliking a team even more."


    The Steelers have had other rivals, notably the Oakland Raiders and Houston Oilers in the 1970s. But neither rivalry lasted nearly as long as this one.

    With just 200 miles separating cities that share the same division and personas ("blue-collar" the most commonly used description), the rivalry accelerated after 2000, when Baltimore won its one and only Super Bowl during a 26-year championship drought for the Steelers. Before the teams met in September 2003, Lewis said, "For some reason we're beginning to like playing Pittsburgh because of the rivalry we had."

    The teams established control of the division and developed similar identities built upon punishing, turnover-producing defenses. Leading them were glib, outspoken coaches, the Ravens' Brian Billick and the Steelers' Bill Cowher, who seemed to genuinely dislike each other and barely tried to hide it. Both now are TV analysts, but the mutual animosity they bred lives on.

    The Steelers have been the better team since 2001, winning two Super Bowls to none for the Ravens, and leading the series, 13-9, including 2-0 in the postseason. Aside from an occasional blowout, most games have been close; five of the past six were decided by three points, the other by four.

    To a larger extent, respect, not hatred, seems to fuel the rivalry. Ward, who memorably blasted Reed in '07, introduced the Ravens safety on video as a member of the 100 best NFL players of all time. Clark said he would "hate to wear that purple, but my personality could play for Baltimore."

    During his 14-year NFL career, quarterback Trent Dilfer played for the Ravens one season — 2000, the year he earned a Super Bowl ring, the start of something special.

    "(The rivalry) has every element of what you're looking for in football," said Dilfer, an ESPN analyst. "Coaching, quarterbacking, physical defense, marquee names, drama. It has every element of what makes the NFL great."

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    Default Re: NFL Divisional Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers

    I'm so excited,this is bigger than Christmas.
    Are these morons getting dumber or just louder-Mayor Quimby

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