Ravens set for a rubber match in the Steel City

So much for home-field advantage playing a major factor in the playoffs.

Believe it or not, the only home team to win this weekend was, remarkably, the Seattle Seahawks. Yes, the same Seattle Seahawks who went 7-9 in the regular season and became the only sub-.500 team to ever make the postseason.

That's just weird, wild stuff.

Because of road wins by the Ravens and Jets this weekend, we've got what will certainly be a dynamite weekend of AFC football ahead of us, and lots of chatter up until then.

The Ravens will square off with the Steelers on Saturday afternoon, and the Jets will head to Gillette Stadium to face the top-seeded Patriots in another intra-division battle on Sunday.

"This is Armageddon for all four teams, and there only can be one winner at the end," Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said yesterday. "And what better teams than these four?"

Those two matchups actually will combine to make a little NFL history. This will be the first time ever that both divisional round playoff games in a conference will feature two teams from the same division facing each other.

The Pats, Steelers, Ravens and Jets finished the regular season with the four best records in the conference. None of these squads like each other, and each team will be facing its arch rival with a spot in the conference title game on the line.

Not sure it gets much better.

For the Ravens, I guess it's only fitting that they're set to face the Steelers in the postseason yet again.

These two teams split their two regular season games this year, with each squad winning on the other's home turf. Each game was decided by just three points, and both contests had the game-winning score come in the final three minutes of regulation.

When you combine the intensity, the history, the competitiveness of the recent games and the stakes, Saturday's game is set up to be another classic installment of one of the NFL's great rivalries.

"It seems like poetic justice - Pittsburgh in the playoffs at their place," head coach John Harbaugh said yesterday. "I'm sure they'll bring their 'A' game, and we'll try to bring our 'A' game. We'll see what happens."

Fresh off their most dominant performance of the season yesterday against the Chiefs, the Ravens will head into Heinz Field brimming with confidence. They exercised their Steel City demons back in a Week 4 win over Pittsburgh, and are now an impressive 4-2 in the playoffs the last three years.

There waiting for them will be a rested, playoff-proven Steelers squad. There won't be any surprises on Saturday afternoon; both teams will line up, smack each other in the mouth, and we'll see which one is left standing.

And it'll be fantastic.

"This is the NFL at its best," Suggs said. "This is what the world wants to see. They want to see Baltimore-Pittsburgh. We're going to put on for our city."

blog comments powered by Disqus