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Ravens @ Steelers: AFC Championship

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Thank god it's Sunday! Enough of all the talk and predictions. This has been a great but extremely long week trading smack with the Steelers faithful. Both teams and their fans are confident. The weather has been freezing all week, but has "warmed" up to around 20 degrees and won't be a factor today. Ravens fans have flocked to Pittsburgh for the game and will have a presence that I'm sure will be noticed by the players. However, the Terrible Towels will be out in force and when the Ravens win, I'd love to see one of our players stomping on it and former coach Bill Cowher spitting, drooling and crying on CBS about how wrong that is.

There has been so much trash talking all week long that I'm not interested in spewing any more today and will let the Ravens players speak for me on the field. Everyone across the country and millions more around the world are waiting for this war to begin. The entire league knows this game will be one of the classics even before it starts. No matter who wins, both teams will be flying around and the field will be littered with bodies before this thing is over. Hopefully, the winner will return to healthy enough status in the two weeks between this one and the Super Bowl, which might be anticlamatic in comparison.

No matter what, I expect this game to turn on the intangibles. The stats do not matter when you look at this game. The two previous ones might have been won by Pittsburgh, but they were so close that they could have gone either way until the final whistle. However, the Steelers did win and that gives them the confidence to do it a third time this season. At the same time, the Ravens believe they are the better team and are motivated to prove the pundits wrong. Both teams know each other better than any other team, as they are almost mirror images of each other in terms of personnel makeup. The injuries will not be the difference in this game, be it the ones that exist prior to the game or the ones that occur during this violent contest. Whomever causes or makes the most mistakes and gets the lucky break, bounce, referee's call (or non-call), will win this game. Something tells me the team with the better stats all game might not be the one with more points on the scoreboard at the end.

I do agree with one of the Steelers' posters that this game will not come down to the final seconds. The stakes are so high that both teams will throw open the playbook and open up their offenses to try to get a lead and force the other into playing catchup. That could open the floodgates to turnovers, which both teams thrive upon. However, as solid and good as the Steelers are, the Ravens defense has been more opportunistic all season and has a better chance to score off of the intangibles than Pittsburgh does. That's the reason for my focus on the intangibles as determining the winner and why I am picking the Baltimore Ravens (what!?)  to defeat the Pittsburgh Steers (No, really!?) today in the AFC Championship Game and represent the AFC in Super Bowl 43. Let's get it on!

Ravens:  17-12

JUST ADDED: Click on this link for a great video on the 2008 Ravens. If this doesn't get you stoked and make you want to get out on the field and hit someone, you might want to check yourself for a pulse!
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NOTE: I will have Open Threads up for both the NFC game and a separate one for the Ravens game as we get closer to gametimes.