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(TSX / STATS) -- The Pittsburgh Steelers can punch their tickets to the postseason with a victory over the visiting Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night.

 

However, they will have to accomplish that goal without a couple of key players.

 

Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is suspended after a hard block on Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict on Monday night. Linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered a spinal injury in that game and had to be hospitalized.

 

Pittsburgh (10-2) can clinch its third AFC North title in four seasons with a win or tie against Baltimore, which has won three straight. Getting a win is the main focus this week, not the fallout from the physical game against the Bengals.

 

"It's a challenge on a short week, you know, playing on Monday Night and having another big division game coming up," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "But such is life in the AFC North. We embrace the challenges of playing in this division -- how tough it is and the intentions of those we compete against. We'll be energized by game time on Sunday. We'll be excited about defending our turf against a very good football team."

 

The Ravens also had a key loss when their top cornerback Jimmy Smith suffered a season-ending torn Achilles in the previous game against Lions. He was also suspended four games for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

 

As a result, Baltimore will rely on Brandon Carr and rookie Marlon Humphrey to start on the outside against the Steelers' Antonio Brown and likely Martavis Bryant. A pair of young cornerbacks, Jaylen Hill and Maurice Canady, will also get more opportunities. Cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste was promoted from the practice squad and could see some action.

 

"Our secondary is playing at a really high level," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday. "It will be tested in this game against their players and their scheme. So, we look forward to it. How we fare is yet to be determined. We'll have to prove that on the field."

 

The Steelers beat Baltimore 26-9 in the first meeting on Oct 1. With Ravens tackle Brandon Williams out of the lineup with a foot injury, Pittsburgh running back Le'Veon Bell amassed 144 yards with two touchdowns. Williams has bounced back from the injury and Baltimore's run defense has been solid. So, Bell will be challenged to repeat that performance.

 

This game also has big playoff implications for the Ravens, who own the sixth and final spot in the AFC playoff race. Baltimore could improve its postseason seeding with a win.

 

"It's a great rivalry," Harbaugh said. "We love playing in it. It's the most physical game we play every single year. It's always tough coming out of the game in that you're going to have a lot of bumps and bruises for sure. We have respect for them."

 

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is looking forward to the challenge against the Steelers defense, which is ranked fourth overall in the NFL. In his last seven games at Heinz Field, Flacco completed 64.4 percent of his passes, averaging 241.7 yards per contest with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. He is 4-3 over that stretch.

 

"This game is always awesome," Flacco said. "It's a ton of fun to go play up there. The more you go up there, the more you enjoy the atmosphere. It's a good, old-fashioned football game that you love to be a part of."

 

The Steelers lead all-time series with Baltimore, 23-20. However, the teams have split the last 22 meetings.

 

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also appreciates the rivalry with Ravens, which is much different than the contentious meeting against the Bengals.

 

"The difference between this game and the Cincinnati game is these two teams, us and Baltimore, there's always a respect involved in it," Roethlisberger said. "You're going to get hit really hard or you're going to hit somebody really hard, but you're going help them up and say, 'Man, nice job.' At the end of it, you're going to shake hands and give the other guy a hug and say that was a lot of fun and can't wait to do it next year. It's a fun rivalry in the sense that there's a lot of respect and there are two good football teams."

 

 

 

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We shit the bed, Flacco refuses to build on the momentum from last week, and we lose 34-10.

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Wild game!

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I turned the game off and went to when Harbaugh and Morningwheig did what they do. The Steelers hadn't stopped Collins all night and with 3 or so left we pass twice... Nevermind the fact the one run you did give Collins he churned out 8. Dumbest coaching staff in the business. You cant put this game on Flacco, the line, or the run game. This one falls on Harbaugh.

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I turned the game off and went to when Harbaugh and Morningwheig did what they do. The Steelers hadn't stopped Collins all night and with 3 or so left we pass twice... Nevermind the fact the one run you did give Collins he churned out 8. Dumbest coaching staff in the business. You cant put this game on Flacco, the line, or the run game. This one falls on Harbaugh.

 

Todd Downing and JDR say hello.

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Last time JDR was in purple and black we had the greatest defense of all time and won a SB...so...yes please.

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At least the Ravens passed the eye test of they can hang with the best.

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At least the Ravens passed the eye test of they can hang with the best.

Eh, I'm not so quick to say that tbh. Divisional games can be tricky. The Pats just dropped a game to Jay Cutler and the Dolphins. Joe Flacco is the luckiest mother fucker I've ever seen though so I can't say they don't have a shot. Their defense is better than it has been in years. I think they're going to need to run the ball more consistently though.

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Ahhh the old Joe Flacco is lucky thing. It is like a story about Bigfoot. I fundit talk about, you look for it, and you see what your mind wants you to see. Never mind that it's complete and total bullshit.

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Joe Flacco has been at best mediocre his entire career. The proof is in the pudding.

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Yeah, I have no problem with that. I would say mediocre is a fair judgement. That being said, saying that he is lucky is something that is ridiculously false, it is promulgated by the one four game stretch of his career that shot him into the stratosphere of pundits hearts. He was no luckier than any other quarterback in that playoff, or any other Playoff in the history of the NFL.

 

Larry Fitzgerald makes a ridiculous catch in the playoffs back in the day, nobody said Kurt Warner sucked. They always said it was a hell of a throw and giving his receiver a chance. Ben Roethlisberger make some crazy throws did Antonio Brown, nobody questions it. I can't tell you how many times I watched Marvin Harrison bail out Peyton Manning, yet he was the greatest of all time. Calvin Johnson has bailed out Matthew Stafford and more than one occasion, and he is still elite. The entire NFL is littered with examples, So when you say Joe Flacco is lucky because Anquan Boldin made a few catches is absolutely and completely asinine. It borders on the retarded.

Edited by Omerta
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I've always been hardcore on the Flacco-is-overrated bandwagon, but that's a pretty fair counterargument, if it can be called that. Part of a QB's skill set is throwing it up and letting his receiver make a play. That year, for whatever reason, Flacco was just on fire throwing it up to Boldin.

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Evaluating quarterbacks is borderline impossible because people treat the actual elite QBs like they don't make mistakes, like they don't make bad throws, throws!, not just a throw or 2, every single fucking week. They do it less, of course, but they do it, too.

 

So when we call Joe Flacco mediocre at best for his whole career when he's almost never the reason that the Ravens lose games, it really is absurd. He has never been elite but for small stretches, despite what he'd argue, but Joe Flacco has been a good NFL quarterback for a long time and his absence will be palpable when he retires. We also need to take into consideration that he has not once had an elite pass catcher at his disposal. He revitalized Boldin and Smith Sr., made Torrey Smith look way better than he is as evidenced by his career since Baltimore, and would be torching teams with Maclin and Wallace if they dared stayed healthy. The best pass receiving weapon he's ever had might be pre-injury Dennis Pitta. Then you look at guys he made look good who've done fuck all since leaving Baltimore like Marlon Brown and Kamar Aiken. Joe Flacco is a good NFL quarterback.

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