The history of the recent series of games between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers shows the trend that suggests that tonight's prime time match-up of two 8-3 teams in a battle for first place in the AFC North will be just another classic game that has been one of, if not the best rivalry in all of the NFL as of late. The NFL made a great move by placing this game in this time slot for all of the nation to see on national TV on Sunday Night Football.
Looking back at the games between the two teams shows that since 2008, the games have never been decided by less than four points in the five previous meetings. The winning team in all of those games has never put more than 23 points on the scoreboard. Even looking at the games from 2005 through today, the winning team has only won by more than six points four times, which includes the playoffs and the two convincing wins by the Ravens in the 2006 season. During this span, the two have met twelve times, meaning that most of the time, the game was decided by a field goal or less in six of those twelve times.
Odds are very good that today's game will be settled by the leg of either the Ravens' Billy Cundiff or the Steelers' Shaun Suisham. If it comes down to that, the game figures to take its place as another classic in the rivalry that has the entire NFL nation looking forward to this game.
The home team has won nine of the twelve meetings between the two since 2005, although the Ravens won the first meeting of 2010 in Pittsburgh, albeit without a suspended Ben Roethlisberger. At the same time, the Ravens were without their All-Pro free safety Ed Reed in that meeting and now both have returned, although Roethlisberger is hampered by what has been reported to be a broken toe even thought the Steelers insist it is not broken. According to Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, the injury will not affect the way the team is preparing for Big Ben and they fully expect him to be behind center and as elusive as he has always been when these teams face off Sunday night.
If things continue to go the way they have in recent times, expect another classic battle that is decided by the margin of which team makes the fewest mistakes and a field goal should separate the victor from the loser. Even with such a slim margin of victory, the winner will have a significant leg up on the loser in terms of winning the AFC North and getting a Bye when the playoffs roll around in just over a month from now.
Regardless of which side you are rooting for, you just know another classic is about to happen and the hype that has been building all week is about to runneth over. Get ready for a great game.