I've heard people debate what makes a great sports rivalry.
Some take the stance that geographical location really can cause two teams to hate each other. And that surely can be true. Take a look at Duke-UNC, Alabama-Auburn, or any number of other collegiate matchups which feature teams from the same state or nearby towns.
Others believe that truly great rivalries involve two teams that have a history of hatred towards each other. Canadiens-Maple Leafs, Yankees-Red Sox, Michigan-Ohio State; all those rivalries have been going strong for decades.
But, the Ravens and Steelers don't have either of those two factors on their side. Baltimore and Pittsburgh are about 250 miles apart, which is a bit longer than the eight miles that Duke and UNC need to travel when they face each other, and the Ravens and Steelers have only played a total of 29 times, slightly fewer than the 107 times that the Wolverines and Buckeyes have met.
So that begs the question - Why is the rivalry between these teams so intense?
Obviously, a lot of it has to do with the physical nature that the Ravens and Steelers share. When two teams have the same "we're going to smash your head in" type of mentality, they're going to start to dislike each other a bit after a while.
But, adding to that, I think one of the main reasons people look forward to this rivalry is because you know the games are always going to be incredibly competitive, and more than likely, they're going to come down to the wire.
Get this: You have to go back to November of 2007 (eight contests ago) to find a Ravens-Steelers game - regular season or postseason - that was decided by double-figures.
Each of the last five regular season battles between these teams have been decided by four points or fewer, and in the last four contests, the combined scores have been 67-66, with Pittsburgh having the slightest of edges.
"That's about as close as it can get," head coach John Harbaugh said.
You're not going to get cheated when you buy a ticket for a Ravens-Steelers game, that's for sure.
You're going to get physical football, you're going to get intensity, you're going to get some pushing and shoving - and you're going to get it for all 60 minutes.
"You just kind of feel like you're going to be in the fight the whole four quarters," tackle Marshal Yanda said. "We'd love to get a big lead on them, and we definitely try to do that, but usually they came down right to the end. That's just the way they work out."
The fact that every game in this rivalry is so close creates the opportunity for big plays in clutch moments. And these teams have traded many big plays over the last couple years.
Ben Roethlisberger's (controversial) touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes at the goal line two years ago can be countered by Joe Flacco's game-winning TD to T.J. Houshmanzadeh with under a minute left in the Week 4 matchup this year.
Steelers kicker Jeff Reed's winning field goal in overtime in 2008 was matched by Billy Cundiff's overtime game-clincher last season.
The players know that the chance for a shining moment is increased in these games, which makes every single snap of the ball so crucial.
"When you've got an opportunity to make a play, you've got to make it because games like this are usually tight and are defined by big plays," linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "You want to be that guy making that play, and you don't want to be the one costing it.
"That's what makes this game great is it's rarely a blowout. It's always a battle. It doesn't matter what our records are, it just happens to be we're both pretty damn good this year. So, it's going to be fun."