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Pittsburgh Steelers: The Baltimore Ravens are our real rival

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Although the Bengals have been regularly competitive and won the division several times, Steelers players still feel the Ravens are the ones to beat.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers are the best rivalry in the NFL. It doesn't matter whether both, one, or neither is in contention, a Ravens-Steelers game will always be tough and competitive. There have been few blowouts over the past decade, and especially since John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco joined the fray. As Coach Harbaugh likes to say, "Iron sharpens iron," and the Ravens and Steelers are a prime example of this.

In more recent years, the Cincinnati Bengals have become a fixture in the playoff race, winning the division several times and recently beating the Ravens fairly often. However, they still have yet to conquer the playoff bug, with an 0-3 record on the big stage in Andy Dalton's career and 0-7 under head coach Marvin Lewis.

The Ravens and the Steelers have had many great battles, including a long streak where most of the recent games have been decided by a touchdown or less. Greats like Ray Lewis and Hines Ward have epitomized this rivalry with their hard hitting ways. The teams have a mutual respect for each other, with every game a grind it out battle, and the teams featuring the two toughest quarterbacks in the NFL, Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco.

So it comes as no surprise that when asked, Steelers players said the Ravens are their top rivals, especially with their recent struggles against them. Per some of the players:

"I can't call it -- if I had to pick: Ravens," Steelers wide receiver Markus Wheaton said. "They got us last year. You want to get the win. That's more important [than the theatrics]."

"I'd still say the Ravens," Tuitt said. "We've got to beat them. We beat Cincinnati. We have to beat the Ravens. It's been like that every time [with them]. That's not going to be a focal point. We're taking one game at a time, but especially with those two teams we have to beat them in the division."

"With the Ravens, that's more in the trenches," Wheaton said. "With the Bengals, it's all over the field. Hopefully it doesn't get too rowdy [in 2016]."