Watching the Ravens leave the field against the Steelers last weekend left me wondering. What happens when one team puts so much thought and effort into beating another? What happens when one team is all consumed with its failures in critical games against their rivals? What happens when the little brother finally rises up and beats his bigger brother?
Listening to Harbaugh after the game talking to his team, you would have thought they just won the Super Bowl. All they did was win a regular season game in November! Sure, it gives them the tie-breaker over their most hated enemy, but that is all it did! To act like the NFL would now just pave a way for you to a championship based on two victories over Pittsburgh BEFORE the 10th week of the season is a bit fool hardy!
The Ravens, in their zest and zeal to dethrone the Steelers as baddest team in the AFC North forgot the NFL season is 16 games. Losing to lesser opponents is what happens when your goal is to beat one team, not win a championship. The Ravens should never have believed their path to that was its just reward for beating Pittsburgh.
Baltimore has put so much into beating Pittsburgh, they get so high and emotional for those games and for those victories, they come out flat against inferior opponents. Those two games they beat Pittsburgh have been offset by three loses to common opponents which Pittsburgh destroyed.
Now, all their hard work and effort against Pittsburgh has led them to lay two enormous eggs (following Steelers games) against Tennessee and Seattle! And for good measure throw in Jacksonville, on a national stage, everyone watching (me in attendance), the Ravens played terrible football! Pittsburgh outscored those three teams a combined 79-30, yet against the Ravens, those same teams outscored Baltimore 50-37. Now, granted it the Steelers had all those opponents in Heinz while the Ravens had three away games, but three away games against inferior opponents, three away games an AFC power should have beaten.
Further, the combined record of the teams that have defeated Pittsburgh is 19-9, Baltimore has lost games to teams that are a combined 11-16. Blaine Gabbert and Tavaris Jackson have beaten the Ravens this year!
Now Pittsburgh is on a bye, and their upcoming schedule (and while no game is played on paper) looks pretty easy. The hardest games they will have is a home game against the Bengals and a road game against the 49ers. They will have 11 days to prepare for San Fran, and San Fran would have clinched their division by then.
Baltimore has 2 games with Cincinnati, one at home with San Fran and one on the road against San Diego.
They each have a Thursday night home game upcoming. Each will play the Sunday before at home against the Bengals, after that the Ravens get San Fran, Steelers get the Browns.
For the Ravens there is solace, they still control their own destiny, win out and they have the division, but does anyone see that happening? For Pittsburgh the goal is clear, it begins with winning the division. Play well, win games and line up against whomever they put against us in the playoffs.
I will say this, does anyone believe these two teams are not headed to a playoff game in January? And if the Ravens beat the Steelers they will deserve whatever comes with them beating their Moby Dick (another game going up against Aaron Rodgers?). For us, I can't see any team beating the Steelers three times in one year. I do not want to play any other team come January, I will be hoping for an AFC title game, a final showdown against our most hated enemies.