This is an unpopular opinion that might cost me my seat at the cool-kids table among Pittsburgh Steelers fans.
I want the Ravens to beat the Patriots Sunday.
The Ravens and Patriots meet in the AFC Championship Game for the second year in a row. It’s the first time the same teams have met in the AFC title game for two straight seasons since the Browns and Broncos in 1986 and 1987.
Choosing between the Ravens and Patriots would seem like choosing between a root canal and a rectal exam, but apparently the decision isn’t that difficult for most Steelers fans.
Last year, a majority of Steelers fans grudgingly pulled for the Patriots to beat the Ravens. That’s not likely to change this year.
Count me among the minority.
For the purpose of full disclosure, I’m a Steelers fan who grew up in Rhode Island. I still lived there when the Patriots won their three Super Bowls.
Since the Patriots beat the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game on the way to two of those championships, living in New England made me feel like a guy who just got dumped listening to a love-song marathon on the radio.
Steelers fans who back the Patriots Sunday are making a mistake, and my personal demons have nothing to do with that opinion.
If the Ravens defeat the Patriots, Tom Brady will still have three Super Bowl rings. Ben Roethlisberger would need just one more to match him if the Steelers ever get their act together.
Steelers fans can sit back and boast about six Lombardi Trophies, but Steelers fans younger than 33 weren’t even born when any of the first four were won.
When it comes to bragging rights between the Steelers and Patriots, counting the Steelers’ four championships in the 1970s is like carrying points from one football game into the next game. In this generation, the Patriots have won three Super Bowls and the Steelers have won two. At least the Steelers have won those two titles since the Patriots won their last one in 2004, but the Steelers won’t even have that to hang their hat on if the Patriots win Super Bowl XLVII.
Sure, it would be tough to stomach the sight of Ray Lewis getting a second ring if the Ravens win the Super Bowl. The Ravens would match the Steelers with two championships since the turn of the century. However, Lewis is retiring after this season, so he’ll never have more rings than Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, Heath Miller, Ike Taylor, James Harrison, Larry Foote, Hines Ward, Casey Hampton or Brett Keisel.
Furthermore, the Ravens’ 2000 championship came before any of the Patriots’ titles and before their division rivalry with the Steelers really heated up in 2001. It didn’t come at the Steelers’ expense. If the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII, they’d still have to win one more to tie the Steelers on history’s scoreboard.
It’s understandable for Steelers fans to loathe the Ravens more than the Patriots, even if it means they’d rather see the Patriots move a step closer to their fourth championship. After all, it’s been the Ravens and not the Patriots who have foiled the Steelers the last two seasons.
Even though I was disappointed that the Patriots won last year’s AFC title game, it was nice to see the Ravens lose the way they did. They finally vanquished the Steelers only to fall 23-20 when Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal in the final seconds.
As much as I’d hate to see the Patriots win Sunday, I’d enjoy seeing the Ravens so tantalizingly close to the Super Bowl only to be turned away for the second straight year.
That’s the best thing about the Ravens-Patriots AFC title game rematch. One of these teams is going to lose.