The Steelers-Ravens game is just hours from starting. I won't see it--it's not broadcast here, as usual. But I've got a feeling about it. At this time of year, it seems teams are having inexplicable bad games. The question is whether Baltimore is due for one. For it seems to me that it will take an extraordinarily good game by Pittsburgh or a bad game, a flat game at least, by Baltimore, for the Steelers to win. And it seems more likely that Baltimore will have a flat or a bad game. It's hard to see the Steelers playing with the same intensity they did against Green Bay. Of course, if they do, then they may deserve to get a playoff game--which is still pretty unlikely, even if they win this one.
The conventional wisdom among Pittsburgh sportswriters seems to be that to have a chance, the Steelers will have to score a lot of points, because their defense can't stop anybody anymore. That seems to be the emphasis the Steelers coaches are making, at least in public. Given how well conventional wisdom has done this year, maybe we should expect a low scoring game that the Steeler defense wins.
But if both teams play their "normal" game, it's even, with a slight edge to Baltimore. If Troy P. were playing, it might be a different story. But he's not. The Steelers can win this, but as far as I'm concerned, they are the underdog, even playing at home.
A few weeks ago, when the Steelers were getting beat in very close games, the Pitt Panthers also lost two very close games. Saturday, Pitt won their bowl game by a couple of points. Omen?
The game that will be broadcast here is Oakland-Cleveland. Funny thing about that game is that both teams, bad teams most of the year, are playing above their record. Cleveland has the edge since they're at home, but this could be an interesting game, which is pretty odd.
The other NFL stories this week are whether New Orleans and Minnesota can go back to winning, playing weaker opponents, and whether Indy is going to expend much effort trying to remain undefeated.
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