Sunday, October 31, 2010

Money Down: Week 8 Best Bets

Hot Dogs... Let's have some fun with the unfavored:

Line: Cardinals at home against the Bucs giving 3 points
Pick: Bucs
Reason: The Cardinals are 29th in points and 28th in points against. The Bucs are undefeated on the road.

Line: Lions at home giving 2.5 points to the Redskins
Pick: Redskins
Reason: Stafford is playing... but so is McNabb. Today will be a day for the old and not the young

Line: Patriots at home giving 5.5 point to the Vikings
Pick: Vikings
Reason: The Pats leaky pass defense will be just what Favre needs to keep this one close.

***Betting lines taken from today's New York Daily News.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Week 8 Picks

I'm 59-45 on the season, but before I present my picks this week let's take a minute to see how some of the experts are doing...

Cris Collinsworth: 59-45
Merril Hoge: 55-49
Adam Schefter: 56-58
Mike Ditka: 54-50

Now I don't feel so bad. Ok, on to week 8:


To see who everyone else is picking check out ESPN's Expert Picks and NFL Countdown. And, of course, join me, Chris and the rest of the Showtime gang as we compete against our own experts at

Wishing everyone a safe and happy HALLOWEEN! Enjoy the games!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Homer Simms-son

Phil Simms on last night's Inside the NFL on SHOWTIME cited the New York Giants as the No. 1 team in the NFL.

Most people who have followed sports for at least a month know the definition of a "homer." It's a sports commentator that, without admitting it, always roots for one team through his/her sports coverage and analysis. Many ex-players and coaches are guilty of this. Ditka likes the Bears. Cowher likes the Steelers. Collinsworth likes the Bengals. We get it. It's all done with a wink and a nudge.

Last night, however, seemed a little different. CBS/SHOWTIME broadcaster - not to mention former Giants quarterback and Northern New Jersey resident - Phil Simms declared on Inside the NFL that the G Men were the best team in the NFL. Ahead of the Jets. Ahead of the Steelers. Ahead of the Pats, Ravens, the whole AFC...and NFC for that matter.

But there was no wink. There was no nudge. Just a serious platinum blond man sticking to the conviction that his former team is No. 1 in the league.

The Giants are a quality football team and this correspondent agrees that the Giants are often shafted in terms of credit. Recognizing that, NFL Reaction refused to be influenced. This site has had the Giants in the top ten since Week 5. However, there is no way you can tell me that they are No. 1. Here are 3 easy-to-grasp reasons:

1) The Giants were trounced by the Titans and the Colts. Great teams don't lose like that.
2) The Giants could only muster up a 28-20 sloppy win over the Lions at home.
3) The Jets, Steelers, Patriots, Ravens, Colts all exist... and have to play tougher teams because they are in the AFC.

The Giants are good... probably the best in the NFC... but not best in the NFL. Sorry, Phil.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Week 7 Top 10

Well, Legentil and I both agreed on the top 5, all AFC, no surprise there. Interesting side-note: the top four teams have really only lost to each other (aside from the Ravens blunder against Cincinnati). Thanks for pointing that out, Chris. The rest of the list this week was fairly similar on both our ends, with just a few teams up or down a spot. So who made our Top 10 this week?

1) Jets - I’m worried the bye week made them better. (AB)
2) Steelers - A bizarre win in South Beach should motivate the Steelers in New Orleans. (CL)
3) Patriots - Anxiously awaiting a rematch against the Jets. (CL)
4) Ravens - Apparently they thought the bye started early. Luckily they showed up in the third quarter, and were playing the Bills. (AB)
5) Titans - Second in points. Third in points allowed. The Titans squad is proving itself as a top team. (CL)
6) Giants - Best team in the NFC, by an increasing margin. (AB)
7) Colts - Upcoming rematch against the Texans...huge. (AB)
8) Falcons - One of the elite teams in the NFC. Would be one of the decent teams in the AFC. (CL)
9) Chiefs - Hanging tough through six games and should hand Buffalo another loss. (CL)
10) Redskins - Four INTs, two words: DeAngelo Hall. Hello Detroit. (AB)

Honorable Mentions: Eagles, Texans. I would include the Seahawks since they are leading their division, but Chris doesn't buy them, and I'll admit I'm not completely sold either.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Officiating?

It seems NFL officials are being called out for bad interpretation of the rules, wrong calls, and game-changing decisions more than ever this season. Several instances occurred just this weekend, for example: Miami "recovered" a touchdown-turned-fumble by Pittsburgh but wasn't given possession which ultimately gave Pittsburgh a chance to score and win the game. The Bills "intercepted" Joe Flacco on a play that could have lead the Bills to their first victory, but NFL rules deemed it not a catch. Who, or what, is to blame?

I completely understand the ruling of the Pittsburgh fumble, but I don't agree with it. Same goes for the Ravens/Bills call. By rule, the INT was not an INT because the defender had one foot down, and the other on the receiver (Boldin I believe), and then went out of catch, no INT. Now being a Ravens fan, I didn't mind the call, but I would argue that the defender caught it (one-handed, mind you) and maintained possession inbounds...sounds and looks like an catch/INT to me.

I don't think it's the officials interpreting the rules that's the problem, perhaps it's just the opposite. It's that they're literally following a set of guidelines and checking them off to determine Yes or NO, no interpretation needed. The rule book is so strict that the refs are following the directions rather than looking at the plays and determining what is or isn't a catch/fumble/etc. Let's review:

In Baltimore - What's a catch? Possession - check. Maintains control - check. Two feet in bounds (and on the ground)...hmm, one foot landed on the other player - no check. Not and interception. For the official, is that interpreting the rules or simply following them?

In Miami - This one's a little trickier. Roethlisberger fumbles the ball at the goal line and it's ruled a Touchdown; replay overturns it. Common sense says that the Dolphins should have had possession with three players on top of the ball at the end of the play (one guy looked as though he came up with it and has the ball in his hands). The officials couldn't really look at that because the whistle had blown and the team who fumbled gets possession at the 1-yardline...or something to that effect. The head official also made it sound like they couldn't determine who had the ball, and I'll admit it's tough seeing who has possession at the bottom of a dog-pile, but that one didn't look too questionable. Again, is this the refs interpreting the rules or are they just following the orders of the NFL to determine calls?

It really comes down to the "Common Sense" argument we've been having all season. NFL rules (and yes, replay) all but eliminate any benefit of the doubt, whether we think they should or shouldn't. Should officials have the right to interpret the rules for themselves? There's obvious arguments for and against, but in my humble opinion, that's why you hire officials - to make the calls. It's the same in virtually every sport...Baseball doesn't use replay to review every pitch, people trust the Umpire. Mistakes are made but that's a part of the game experience. Or should we just go to some automated system that analyzes every aspect of a play and determines YES or NO?

Again, you can argue both sides, but how do we determine what the right call is? Common sense? Rules and guidelines? Or is there some other approach to solving the problem with NFL officiating, if there even is one?

For more discussion check out Footballproslive.comTurk and Cris provide some thoughts...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Week 7 Picks

Coming off a good week (11-3), I gotta keep the momentum going. Here we go, short and sweet (and color-coded):

Tennessee, Atlanta, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Francisco, Washington, Kansas City, Baltimore, Seattle, Denver, New England, Minnesota, New York Giants.

Enjoy the games everyone!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Who's Overrated?

Sports Illustrated recently polled NFL players to see which one of their peers they think is the most overrated player in the league. Here's what they came up with:

Terrell Owens, Bengals WR 14%
Tony Romo, Cowboys QB 7%
Mark Sanchez, Jets QB 5%
Albert Haynesworth, Redskins DT 5%
Eli Manning, Giants QB 4%


T.O. gets the top vote, no surprise there. I'm not sure I agree with this one though. If anything Owens has been the only decent performer on the suffering Bengals offense this season, and maybe even underrated this year. Is he overrated? Maybe as a reality star, but right now I think he can still hang with the best of them in this league. I mean, he does have more receptions, yards, and TDs than his counterpart, tell me who's overrated.

Not to make this a Bengal-bashing fest, but I would rank Carson Palmer high on my list of overrated players. And how about adding Alex Smith, and maybe Matt Ryan to the list of QBs. Who do you think is overrated?

Read more:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Week 6 Top 10

Before we get right into the list, NFL Reaction's own Chris Legentil has a few thoughts:
"When you look at the AFC right now, it’s hard to imagine that only six of those teams will be in the playoffs this postseason. I’ve heard league officials are talking about possibly changing the AFC Championship Game to the Super Bowl. The game following against the NFC will be an exhibition game where the NFC starts with 24 points on the board and the AFC team plays blindfolded."
Cruel? Maybe. Funny? Absolutely. If the AFL could have only seen what 50 years would do for their legacy...but in all fairness, we have a lot of season left! As for week 6:

1) Jets - They’re 1-0 this season when Kyle Orton plays for them in the 4th quarter. (AB)
2) Steelers - Probably #1, but I want to see Ben play against a good defense. (AB)
3) Patriots - You give Tom Brady the ball enough times, he’ll beat you. Ask the Ravens. (CL)
4) Ravens - The Ravens have played all three teams above them on this list...and they're 4-2. Enough said? (CL)
5) Colts - Peyton has two weeks to prepare for the Texans rematch. I like his chances. (CL)
6) Saints - Now that looked like a championship team. (AB)
7) Eagles - Why did Andy Reid call himself “chubby” after the game last week? He’s WAY bigger than “chubby.” (CL)
8) Giants - Playing solid, but the Eagles and Redskins are too. (AB)
9) Titans - Crushing the Jags was nice, not thrilling, but nice. (AB)
10) Falcons - Either assert yourself as the team in the NFC or don’t. Stop teasing everyone. (CL)


After numerous concussions and ferocious helmet-to-helmet hits this past Sunday, the NFL is now looking to severely punish players for their actions. Fines and suspensions may accompany any "devastating hits", whether intentional or not. The NFL is showing its concern for players safety and making changes because of it. But wait, the process on expanding the season to 18 games is still underway...what!?

I completely understand the NFL's position. It puts the safety of its players at the top of the list...right after "making a s***load of money". Or can someone else explain this rationale to me?

Some argue that these are two separate issues, but it's obvious they go hand-in-hand. First off, suspending players for devastating hits won't stop them all together, because when you have 800-pound men repeatedly crashing in to one another, someone is bound to get hurt (I mean blocking the Ravens defensive line has to be similar to stopping a 747 mid can anyone think that's safe?). The bottom line is - football is a dangerous sport! Everyone knows this, no one wants to say it. It's part of the reason everyone watches it! How much more exciting would baseball be if players collided head-on during every play? For one thing there wouldn't be 160+ games. Which leads me to the next part of this debacle - extending the season.

In the words of my favorite Monday Night Football analysts: C'mon Man! If the NFL administration is so purposeful in keeping its players healthy and safe, then they have to listen to those players who are complaining about the extra two games. I said before that players are going to get hurt regardless of how many more rules you apply, adding two more games just increases your chances...common sense.

So then what is it? How can the NFL be so adamant about player safety and still want a longer season? Answer (and our daily-double): The NFL is first, and foremost, a business, and if more games means selling more tickets, and ultimately making more money, then so be it right? But it's time to pick one - safety or money. I'm quite sure you guys at the NFL are doing fine, financially, especially when you can pay an unproven rookie millions (but that's another issue, don't even get me started). More people are watching pro football now than every before, so take stock in what you have...arguably the best spectator sport in America, and that's saying a lot. Or go ahead, expand the season, add more rules, change the game as we know it. Hey, let's turn the NFL into a big flag football game with no tackling, and we can have football year-round!

But who on Earth would want to watch that...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Week 6 Picks

As any expert or fan will probably tell you, it's been an excruciating season for picking games. Even the Inside the NFL guys were complaining this week. But that's what makes the NFL exciting, especially this truly is anyone's game right now. That being said, there are three teams emerging as this year's elite, and I'm going with all of them to win big this week.

Steelers over the Browns - This is a no brainer, Cleveland is down to their third string QB and Pittsburgh, already outstanding, get their prize #1 QB back. It's not even fair.

Ravens over the Patriots - This is going to be another tough test for Baltimore, as going in to Foxboro always is, but they've beaten some VERY good teams this year (including the rest of the top three). The Ravens might not pull ahead as quickly as they did in January, but this team is built to win and are finding the ways to do it.

Jets over the Broncos - Denver was outgunned last week in every way possible, and this week will be no different. Yes they're at home now, but the Jets are cut from the same hard granite as the Ravens...exactly the kind Denver can't beat.

As for the rest:
Saints, Dolphins, Chargers, Texans, Giants, Eagles, Bears, 49ers, Colts, Titans.

Enjoy the games everyone!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Video: Favre Hurt

In other Brett Favre news, there's this:


Actually that looked like it was a little low and the ball hit him in the thigh as opposed to the "man region". Maybe he was kidding...or maybe he's really desperate to get put on IR.

Favre Will "Sling" It

News: The tendinitis in Brett Favre's right elbow has his 289-game consecutive start streak in jeopardy.

Reaction: Brett Favre will start on Sunday vs. the Cowboys. How many times can the media and fans play into Favre's attention-grabbing tricks?

Is he an old man with the aches and pains of an NFL uber-veteran? Yes. Is he also a gridiron warrior who starts and plays every game regardless of what he or his coach have indicated leading up to the game/season? Yes.

His appearance with a sling on his arm after sitting out of practice yesterday is just another line item on the litany of (successful) attempts to stir the pot. More annoying than Farve's antics is everyone buying into them. Look for No. 4 under center Sunday.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Week 5 Top 10

It's that time of the week 10 time! The Jets remain on the top of our list as they handed the Vikings another loss. It was a tough debate, however, as the Ravens look like the other team to beat in the AFC, but right behind them are the Steelers and the Patriots. NFL Reaction is going to go way out on a limb this week and predict that this year’s Super Bowl will be won by an AFC team...

1) Jets - No. 1 last week. Beat the Vikings with Moss. Still No. 1. (CL)
2) Ravens - If they beat the Patriots in Foxboro, they’re No. 1 next week. No question. (CL)
3) Steelers - With Ben back, this could be, hands-down, the best team in the NFL. (AB)
4) Patriots - Can they bring the soaring Ravens down to earth? (AB)
5) Falcons - According to, the Falcons lead the league standings. Oh, is that cause of the "A" in Atlanta? (AB)
6) Colts - An ugly win over the Chiefs has me wondering; how good is this team? (AB)
7) Giants - Has there been a better team over the last two weeks? (CL)
8) Bears - Forte stepped it up with Cutler out. “Good” teams will do that. (CL)
9) Saints - The teams they’ve beat have a combined record of 1-13. Problem? (AB)
10) Chiefs - A hard fought loss to the Colts in Indy does not kick you out of the Top 10. (CL)

Honorable Mentions - Packers, Titans

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Over the hill, but not out of the woods yet...

Let's take a second to evaluate good (maybe) ol' Brett Favre. He stages another dramatic, media-crazed  extension of his storied career, leads the Vikings to a less than thrilling 1-3 start to the season, and is now eyeing Tiger Woods for the world's biggest "hero turned scum-bag" spot.

Don't get me wrong, I still appreciate Favre, his dedication to the game and what he's contributed to it, but I can't help but wonder - what's he thinking right now?

In a Letterman-esque countdown, let me give you my list:

10. Ok, ok...bad idea.

9. Sexting? I don't even know how to use a cell phone, I'm a grandfather doggone it!

8. The season didn't look this long in August.

7. Can they just give me a ring for being me?

6. I think my ankle's broken.

5. Tiger said it was a great idea.

4. Seriously, I don't think I can walk.

3. Do you think Just For Men is looking for a new spokesperson?

2. I miss John Madden.

1. I should've just stayed in bed.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Week 5 Exposes Weak 3 of Tier 3

News: The Bengals were upset by the Bucs, 24-21. The Chargers were upset by the Raiders, 35-27. The Cowboys were upset by the Titans, 34-27.

Reaction: NFL talk shows often rap about the "elite" quarterbacks of the NFL. The list of candidates seem to change by the week/month/season but two names remain at all times: Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. What's the reason? Because they - and they alone - are the only "elite" quarterbacks in the NFL. During yesterday's wild day of crazy endings and upsets (Man - the NFL is awesome), Tony Romo, Carson Palmer and Phillip Rivers proved why they are clearly not worthy of the "elite" discussion and, really, best described as tier 3 quarterbacks. All three quarterbacks failed to win games in which they were favored and find themselves with a losing record heading into week 6 despite high hopes at the beginning of the season. All had chances to win the game in the fourth quarter. Between them, they threw for over 1,000 yards and still could not secure a victory - probably because of the combined six interceptions.

My assessment of "tier 3" may seem harsh but if Manning and Brady are the only tier 1 quarterbacks, where would you put Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger? Certainly not with the Letdown Trio. Brees' and Roethlisberger's fingers own three of the past hand's worth of Super Bowl rings. The Letdown Trio, talented as they may be, have little to no playoff success. Even a former member of the "Elite" club, Brett Favre, made it to two of the past three conference championship games in the twilight of his storied career. The Letdown Trio range in age from 28-30, the supposed prime of their careers.

True, you can't be spectacular every week. Brees certainly was not yesterday. But it's about a body of work. And the bodies of Romo, Palmer and Rivers are all looking like they could use a few sit-ups.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Money Down: Week 5 Best Bets

Let's have some fun with the undefeated and the winless:

Line: Lions at home against the Rams giving 3 points
Pick: Lions
Reason: The Lions have played 4 decent games this year. They may be winless but they no longer appear to be woeful.

Line: Colts at home giving 7 points to the Chiefs
Pick: Colts
Reason: The Colts already have two losses and they are playing the Chiefs at home. Sorry, Todd. Prepare to join the Steelers and Bears with a first loss in your fourth game.

Line: Bills at home giving 1 point to the Jaguars
Pick: Jaguars
Reason: The Bills are terrible.

***Betting lines taken from today's New York Daily News.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Week 5 Picks

Alex is on location in San Jose so I thought I'd help him out by posting the picks this week. He is almost as bad at picking winners as I am at picking best bets.

This week, you'll see the last of the undefeated teams go down and one of the winless teams chalk up a victory. Here goes:

Browns, Falcons, Giants, Colts, Redskins, Jaguars, Ravens, Bears, Lions, Saints, Chargers, Cowboys, 49ers, Vikings

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Moss Back in Minn.

NEWS: ESPN's Adam Schefter reports Patriots will trade Randy Moss to Vikings for a third round draft pick.

REACTION: The Pats must have a lot of faith in their young receiving corp to make this trade. Then again, with the help of Brady, new stars are emerging left and right in New England. As for the Vikings, Moss should fill in nicely for injured Sidney Rice, and provide an even more solid passing attack when Rice returns. Guess it'll be up to Favre at that point...

(posted via mobile device)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Week 4 Top 10

Posting this week's top 10 a little early, since I'm headed out of town on business. Lot of things shaken up this weekend, so let's see where the teams stand:

1) Jets - I thought Rex's mouth, Revis' holdout and Braylon's DWI had them in trouble. (CL)
2) Saints - They can still win games, but need to cure the hangover. (AB)
3) Ravens - With wins over the Jets and Steelers, the Ravens can hang with anyone. (CL)
4) Steelers - Roethlisberger will bring balance to the force that is the Steelers. (AB)
5) Patriots - The defense certainly woke up after laying an egg against Buffalo. (CL)
6) Packers - They’re winning but, like the Saints, they need to straighten up their act. (AB)
7) Texans - If that defense can balance the offense, they’re golden. Brian Cushing should help. (AB)
8) Colts - Good start or bad, the Colts win 11 games and make the playoffs. (CL)
9) Falcons - With the Saints and Packers looking mortal, the Falcons should set aim for more than just a division title. (CL)
10) Chiefs - Two weeks to prepare, but can they remain undefeated against the Colts? (AB)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Money Down: Week 4 Best Bets

Wow, I really need to get these predictions posted sooner. I picked my best bets during the week and all three of them slid out of my favor as the week progressed - some by .5 points and some by 1.5 points. Yikes. But I'm holding on to all three... at least I know that the betting world agrees with me. Here's hoping that I best my 1-2 record from last week.

Line: Steelers at home giving 2.5 points to the Ravens
Pick: Steelers
Reason: Much has been scribed on NFL Reaction about this game. You can check out my final score predication from Friday to see that picking the Steelers was in the cards for this week.

Line: Giants at home giving 3.5 points to the Bears
Pick: Bears
Reason: Although I have to believe that the Giants know that they need to perform well this evening, I must take the Bears. Urlacher and Peppers alone are enough to make me think that they'll keep this thing within a field goal.

Line: Titans at home giving 6.5 points to the Broncos
Pick: Broncos
Reason: The Titans are a good team but 6.5 is a big line. Look for Kyle Orton to make this a closer game than it appears to be on paper.

Week 4 Picks

I've never been off to a worse start; 25-23, I feel so amateur. Hoping for some luck this week...


Enjoy the games everyone!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Quoth the Raven: Baltimore

In a sense, I'm playing the Devil's advocate right now. If the Ravens are a championship caliber team, then the start of the season and their win over the Browns last week was poor evidence... to me anyway. Flacco's dominant performance with the help of Boldin is something I have basically expected this season, but have only seen glimpses of. I know it's early and they may be finding their rhythm, but slugging out a win against the Jets, losing the same way to the Bengals, and then staging an outstanding (but only one score lead, mind you) game against the Browns doesn't elevate my confidence. Wake up boys, you're headed to Steeler country.

Sunday's matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers marks the 31st time these two teams have met since the Ravens "joined" the League in 1996. The Steelers hold the winning shadow over the Ravens like the so-called "curtain" that Pittsburgh is unquestionably known for. The 19-11 head-to-head record goes to the Steelers. Right now Pittsburgh looks like an unbelievable story, dominating the competition in the absence of their fearless leader. But as any black and gold wearing fan knows, the Ravens are never to be taken lightly.

And perhaps that is where my sentiment lies as I prepare for Sunday. Unbiased, I'd take Pittsburgh in this game, but as most of you know - I bleed purple and black. I support my team through thick and thin and right now, while I fear the Steelers are the better team, I can't take the Ravens lightly either. They need to prove something on Sunday. They need to establish that they are the team to be reckoned with in the AFC North. Right now it's the Steelers...the tension builds. I'm reminded of the fact that these two teams are the only AFC North teams to have won the Super Bowl...the rivalry grows.

If Baltimore is to come out on top it will be by a narrow margin, no one expects anything else. Needless to say, the keys to their success will be the lack of mistakes. Turning the ball over can't happen. Even without Roethlisberger, the Steelers have been putting up points and hindering opponents. Mendenhall needs to be contained, Batch needs to be pressured. But that won't happen all game, someone will score and that will force the other team to step up on offense. The Ravens Defense is still top notch, but there are flaws - call it age, call it injury, whatever. Flacco needs to shine. He has three pro bowl receivers now, and an all-pro tail back. Rice will play, use him too. Do it right and you'll win the day. You want a prediction? How about this:

Ravens 20, Steelers 19.

I'm worried about this game Baltimore, I won't lie. It's time to prove something. Historically the Ravens never get the hype. This off-season they were the talk of the League, Super Bowl picks virtually across the board. And I bought into it. You guys look great on paper, show it on the field. Now the Steelers are a 1 point favorite, Ravens are the underdog again. Some say determination and sheer will are enough to forge a victory. Well this will be a statement: taking out the undefeated their home base, their lair. That incentive enough for you? I'll be watching.

The View from Pittsburgh

Am I dreaming? Is my team sans Big Ben going for their first 4-0 start since the ‘70s? At the beginning of the season, I had the Ravens winning this game. Last week, I had the Ravens winning this game. Three days ago, I had the Ravens winning this game. Today, I’m taking the Steelers.

Granted, the Ravens need this game more. Handing over a 3-1 Steelers team and first place tie in the AFC North to the prodigal son of Pittsburgh would be more than serviceable. But at 2-1, a loss would drop the Ravens to two games behind the Steelers (and essentially three if you consider the tie-break rules) and rack up their second divisional loss in a young 2010 season. And let’s not forget that the Ravens “should” win this game because the Steelers are playing without their $100 million quarterback.

Last year after Ben Roethlisberger suffered a concussion, the Ravens defeated a Dennis Dixon-led Steelers team in overtime in Baltimore. In their second meeting, Ray Rice asserted himself as the only running back to run for 100 yards on the Steelers in the last 37 games in a 23-20 Ravens loss.

As for this week:
Charlie Batch showed he still has a little something left in the tank last week against the Bucs. Unfortunately for Batch, he is taking an enormous step up in competition this week.

The Steelers O line is improving. Flozell Adams is learning the right tackle role. Doug Legursky seems to be an upgrade as he is playing for the injured right guard Trai Essex, and rookie Maurkice Pouncey has been phenomenal through three games. Improvements such as these have paved the way (or perhaps blocked the way) for Rashard Mendenhall to amass 332 yards with a 5.2 yards per carry average.

After leading the NFL with reception yards per catch in his rookie season, Mike Wallace is continuing to beat secondaries deep even though they know what’s coming. Randle El has lost a step at the No. 3 spot but Hines Ward refuses to age, still catching balls over the middle and getting clobbered before picking himself back up with a huge smile on his mug. Oh yea, and he blocks pretty well too.

Troy is back. The Steelers defense is one of the toughest to play and most exciting to watch when he is in the game. The Steelers also have the best four-man linebacker unit in the game. Who leads the team in tackles? 2008 Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison? No. 2009 breakout star Lamar Woodley? No. Maybe all-pro veteran James Farrior? No. The Steelers top tackler award goes to 4th year inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons, Mike Tomlin’s first draft choice as the Steelers head coach. Yes, they’ve found another one.

Look for the Steelers O to use a combination of Mike Wallace deep and Mendenhall on the run to keep the Ravens D off balance.
Look for the Steelers D to use a myriad of looks to confuse a still-maturing Joe Flacco. Expect a pick from a Steelers linebacker or safety.
Steelers 24-13

Revelry for Rivalry: Steelers-Ravens

I completely buy into Steelers-Ravens being the best rivalry in the NFL - not the longest running or most storied, but currently the best. This week on Showtime’s Inside the NFL, Cris Collinsworth appeared almost jealous that Phil Simms would be calling this Steelers-Ravens match up at 1 p.m. ET on CBS (Collinsworth is calling the Giants-Bears game for NBC on Sunday night). "Don’t you love calling this game? I love calling this game," said Collinsworth to his on-air nemesis Simms. “This is one of the most physical, hard-hitting games of the season.”

True that.

The counter argument for this being the best rivalry in the NFL always starts with the duration because the Ravens only came into existence in 1996. For the life of me, I can't figure out why more isn't made of the fact that the Ravens were once the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers longtime rival. Luckily for the Inner Harbor, Ray Lewis joined the transplanted franchise early on and avoided an expansion franchise-like, decade-long acclimation period. Here are the 3 reasons as to why Steelers-Ravens is the best rivalry in professional football:

- Consistency. More or less, both of these teams have been solid for the last decade or so - three Super Bowl victories between them.

- Consistency. The cast of characters enjoys many a player with only one team to his resume: Lewis, Ben Roethlisberger, Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu, Terrell Suggs, Hines Ward, Todd Heap and many others.

- Consistency. Both teams play the same brand of football: tough. Though the Steelers and the Ravens have solid receiving units and more than capable quarterbacks, the offense starts with the running game. And do I really have to get into their defenses?

Look out for some analysis for this site’s resident Baltimore and Pittsburgh fans.

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