Big Sunday Night Game; Roethlisberger Out

Steve O Speak

By Guest Blogger Megan Shoup:

Today’s docket of NFL games is pretty much a snoozefest, with no big rivalry or playoff implication games.  Except my Skinnies trying to upset the Eagles!  And it will be interesting to see if the Colts stay undefeated today as they play the Texans.  But tonight’s Sunday Night match-up of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens is a marquee matchup and has two major storylines.  After watching a day of boring games, this one should be worth waiting for!

Storyline #1:  Playoff Implications:

The game tonight is in Baltimore, and truly at this point in the season, the Ravens need this game slightly more.  But not by much as the Pittsburgh Steelers are 6-4 and the Baltimore Ravens are 5-5.  When these teams faced 3 times last year, it  always had meaning, especially the 3rd time (AFC Championship) for the Super Bowl.  So its no surprise its the same situation this year.  Bottom line, the loser of tonight’s game has a major uphill battle to even make the playoffs.  The reason, because there are 4 other AFC teams in the Wild Card race if the division leaders were to stay the way they are now.  You have the Broncos (7-4), Jaguars (6-4), Dolphins (5-5) and Texans (5-5) all in the mix for the Wild Card as well.  So in my opinion the AFC Wild Card teams will need a 10-6 record or better.  And that’s why tonight’s game is so important.  The loser will have its back against the wall, especially if its the Ravens. 

Storyline #2:  Ben Roethlisberger Out:

When I was up in Pennsylvania visiting family over the holiday, all I heard on the news was that Big Ben was practicing and ready to play.  But Friday night into Saturday, that decison changed and Roethlisberger will be sitting out for tonight’s game.  That means the game is in the hands of Dennis Dixon who has virtually no real NFL game experience.  The Steelers also signed former Pitt QB Tyler Palko as a back-up. 

The Steelers will probably rely on their running game, and they can also rely on Dixon’s feet under pressure.  Dixon was known for his speed when he played in college at Oregon. 

I wonder how Steelers fans feel about all of this for such an important game?  I know my cousin, a diehard Steeler fan, doesn’t want to see Ben get another concussion against the fierce Ravens defense.  But in such a big game, its frustrating not to have your best marquee players out there.

For the Steelers, they need to hope they can establish and rely on the run, and that Dixon plays smart and uses his feet if necessary.  They also need to hope that he doesn’t get knocked out of the game, or else its in the hands of Palko who doesn’t know the Steeler’s offense.  Steelers fans, what do you think going into tonight’s game?

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