It's Steelers-Ravens week.
That's always a good thing. When those two teams get together, whether in Baltimore or Pittsburgh, it's always a physical, nasty war. This year the first of two matchups is even more intriguing, with the Steelers coming in undefeated at 6-0 and the Ravens at 5-1, with only a home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
What makes this game even more interesting is that in a year with gaudy offensive numbers, both of these teams are good on defense.
The Ravens are at the top in scoring defense at 17.3 points per game, while the Steelers are fifth at 19.4 per game. The Steelers are third in the league in yards per play against at 4.9, while the Ravens are tied for fifth at 5.1 per play.
To put the per-play numbers in perspective, consider there are 10 teams that give up 6.0 yards or more per play.
The Steelers, who are first in my Power Rankings, come in off a 27-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans. It was a game where they looked far more dominant than the score would indicate, only to let the Titans back in with some bad turnovers.
The Ravens, who are third in my rankings, are off a bye and rested, which is an edge to them.
While both defenses are good, the offenses aren't so bad either. Pittsburgh is the third highest scoring team at 30 points per game, while Baltimore is eighth at 29.8 per game.
This might come down to a battle of the two strengths of the teams, Baltimore's run offense against the Pittsburgh run defense. Baltimore leads the league in rushing with 5.4 yards per attempt and 164.5 yards per game. The Steelers are second in the league in run defense, giving up a stingy 3.4 per rush, and come off a game where they limited Derrick Henry to 3.8 per rush.
Of course, Lamar Jackson can throw it down the field and Roethlisberger and his passing game are pretty good as well.
Ravens-Steelers is always big, and usually the hits can be heard loudly, but this year it's even bigger, a battle of perhaps the league's two best teams.
Bring it on.
|They made it interesting against the Titans, but they found a way late to get it done. Ben Roethlisberger can't afford the mistakes he made in that game against Baltimore this week.||--||5-5-1|
|They have shown this season that they can win even when Patrick Mahomes doesn't put up gaudy numbers. That's a sign of a more complete team.||1||7-4-0|
|They come off their bye with a big one against the Steelers. It will be the unveiling of the new-look defense with Yannick Ngakoue.||1||8-3-0|
|The defense just isn't good enough. They can't rush the passer, which is a major problem. That unit faces a tough challenge this week against the 49ers.||2||3-8-0|
|That team that we saw against the Raiders is the real deal. That team can win a Super Bowl. But what happens now with Antonio Brown on board?||2||8-3-0|
|Aaron Rodgers bounced back in a big way against the Texans after losing to Tampa Bay. They still have some defensive issues.||2||9-3-0|
|The defense just isn't good enough right now. They battled in losing to the Steelers, rallying to get into the game, but the defense has to be better.||2||8-4-0|
|It wasn't a dominant showing against the Jets, but they found a way. Now they have a big one with the Patriots.||1||7-4-0|
|So that's the Baker Mayfield many Browns fans were waiting to see. Can he continue his hot second half against the Bengals the rest of the way?||1||6-6-0|
|The defense is impressive. That is the part of the team that is so much better than expected. They dominated the Chicago offense, bouncing back after their bad loss to the 49ers.||1||7-4-0|
|They are a legit playoff contender. The offense is dynamic, but the defense still has some issues that need to be fixed.||3||9-2-0|
|They found a way against the Panthers, even with a limited offense. That's the sign of a good team. The defense showed some improvement too.||--||5-6-0|
|They face a tough road game as they come off their bye and go to Detroit to face a resurgent Lions team. They better hope Philip Rivers can continue his hot play from the game before the bye.||--||6-6-0|
|The offense is awful. Nick Foles isn't good. They can't move the ball. They can't win games playing the way they do.||8||4-7-0|
|Kyle Shanahan is doing an amazing job with this team after all the injuries. They have won two straight games as they head to Seattle to face the Seahawks.||4||6-5-0|
|At 3-3, they have righted their season. The defense has made strides the past two weeks, which is key to their turnaround. Now they face a good Indianapolis team that will tell a better story of where they are as a team.||7||0-10-1|
|The Bucs showed they have some big-time flaws on defense. They have to fix those quickly with Cleveland on tap.||2||6-5-0|
|They come off the bye in the playoff race with Tua Tagovailoa in as the quarterback. How will he play? Was it the right move?||--||5-7-0|
|Two consecutive losses has them coming back to reality after the fast start. They have a chance to change that this week with a winnable home game against the Falcons.||2||5-7-0|
|It looks like it's going to be a long season. In fact, they face a major win-or-else game this week with Buffalo.||4||8-4-0|
|Justin Herbert won his first game on Sunday and continued the impressive start to his career. He looks legit, which is the good thing for the future. Justin Herbert won his first game on Sunday and continued the impressive start to his career. He looks legit, which is the good thing for the future.||1||6-5-0|
|They didn't look great in beating the Giants, but they are in first place in the division. That's simply amazing, with the Cowboys on tap this week.||1||5-7-0|
|Drew Lock had a rough go of it against the Chiefs. Those games will happen for young passers, but it's how he responds that matters.||3||6-5-0|
|They dominated the Cowboys on Sunday to get their second victory of the season. Their defensive line is nasty.||7||5-6-0|
|They are awful. The offense is now a mess. The defense is terrible. Yet they are still in the NFC East race heading into Philadelphia this week.||1||7-4-0|
|They find new ways to lose games every week. On Sunday, they lost by scoring a touchdown. Think about that.||1||5-6-0|
|They come off their bye seemingly in a look-to-the-future mode after trading Yannick Ngakoue to the Ravens. The defense also won't have pass rusher Danielle Hunter the rest of the way, which means a lot of high-scoring games.||1||5-6-0|
|Joe Burrow has been outstanding, but he throws it way too much and takes too many shots. They have to protect him better.||1||7-4-0|
|They have one victory this season and the defense is woeful. It's time to start thinking about their next coach. Will they unload players before the trade deadline, and should they?||1||2-9-0|
|They competed against the Eagles, but you get the idea Joe Judge isn't keen on moral victories. Yet they are still in the race with the Bucs coming to town. They competed against the Eagles, but you get the idea Joe Judge isn't keen on moral victories. Yet they are still in the race with the Bucs coming to town.||1||4-7-0|
|How much longer can they go with Gardner Minshew? He just isn't playing well and they are on their bye this week, so it might make sense to make the change.||1||2-9-0|
|At least it looked better against the Bills. That's progress. That's all they can hope for now.||--||3-8-0|