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Pittsburgh Steelers Week 9 Matchup Preview

Week 9 of the NFL season has plenty of divisional showdowns on the slate, and the Baltimore Ravens vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers is one that plenty will have an eye on. The Steelers (4-3) currently lead the AFC North, but Baltimore (3-4) is right on their heels. The Cincinnati Bengals (3-4-1) are also right in the thick of things, and the Cleveland Browns are, well, the Cleveland Browns (0-8).

The Steelers will be traveling to Baltimore for the first of two games against their division foes. The second will come in Pittsburgh on Christmas day. Even though we are only at the halfway point of the season both teams will likely play this game with playoff intensity, with first place in the division on the line.

The Steelers may be getting a big boost to their chances after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger announced there is a possibility he will suit up for the contest, despite undergoing knee surgery just three weeks ago.

The Steelers have struggled without Big Ben under center. They are currently on a 2 game losing streak after losing 30-15 to the Miami Dolphins and 27-16 to the New England Patriots. Landry Jones played decently with  sidelined, but one’s a future hall of famer and the other is simply a mediocre backup quarterback. If Ben returns to action this Sunday, he will be just what the Pittsburgh offense ordered.

Whether Big Ben can play or not, Pittsburgh will rely on running back Le’Veon Bell to shoulder a big load once again. Standing in his way will be the formidable linebacker tandem of C.J. Mosley and Zach Orr. They have anchored a surprisingly good Baltimore defense that allows only 82 rushing yards per game, but rushing will only be half the battle.  Bell has amassed 589 total yards from scrimmage, 245 of them through the air, despite playing in just 4 games this season. The match-up between one of the best runners in the game and two of the best run stoppers in the game will be key all afternoon.

Baltimore’s offense has been the primary reason for their struggles this year. They rank near or below the bottom third of the league in every major offensive category, but could turn it around against a Steelers defense that allows almost 400 total yards per game to opponents. Terrance West has emerged as a formidable threat out of the backfield for the Ravens, and he figures to be highly involved with quarterback Joe Flacco struggling.

In such a tightly contested division, this game is sure to see some extra fireworks. Given the storied, yet brutal, history between these two division foes, who would expect anything less?

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