It’s Pittsburgh…enough said

January 13, 2011 | Paul Hoke

In just a little more then 48 hours, the Baltimore Ravens (13-4) will take the field at Heinz Field to face their bitter rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) in an AFC Divisional Playoff matchup for the right to go the the AFC Championship Game.

This is the way it’s supposed to be, right?

Sure.  Although I would feel much more confident about this game if it were being played down the the Purple Palace.  But hey, things worked out the way they worked out.  The Ravens have to go to Pittsburgh.  It figures that in this journey that hopefully ends up in Dallas the first weekend of February, one of the teams standing in the Ravens’ path, it the Steelers.

Have I mentioned yet that I hate the Steelers?  If not, I will certainly bring it up numerous times in this post.

I hate Ben Roethlisberger.  I hate Hines Ward.  I hate James Harrison (roid much?).  I hate Mike Wallace.  Hell, I hate the guy who sits in the second deck and waves his stupid little yellow towel.  I HATE Pittsburgh.

My wife always tells me that HATE is a strong word.  I look her right in the eye and tell her, “I know…but it’s the right word.”

Part of the hatred is born out of jealousy, not going to lie about that.  As much as we want to talk about how intense this rivalry is, the fact of the matter is, Pittsburgh is by far the more successful organization.  And for the exception of 2006, they’ve owned the Ravens.  The Ravens are just 12-20 against them in the regular season, and 0-2 in the playoffs.  The games are always close, but in every game there seems to be that moment where that jackass wearing the #7 jersey manages to adjust the horseshoe planted in his rear end, and beat the Ravens either with his arm or his legs.  That being said, in my opinion, the Ravens are the better team this year.  They beat Pittsburgh in their building in October, and should have won in M&T on December 5th.  After the Kansas City game, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of a difference Todd Heap would have made in that game.  Maybe with Heap on the field, they manage to punch the ball into the endzone instead of kicking a field goal in the red zone.  Doesn’t matter now, but the more I think about it, a healthy Todd Heap could be the difference in a Ravens’ win or loss this time around.  With the good guys getting the W this time of course.

Have I mentioned how much I hate the Steelers?  Their fans?  I work with a few Steeler fans, and as much as I like my co-workers, their stinking, rotten, yellow towel waving makes me want to punch each one of them in the face.  But I digress.

Now, officially, this game has me worried.  It’s in Pittsburgh, they’re coming off a bye, and no one has been a bigger Raven-killer, this side of Peyton Manning, besides Roethlisberger.  But I still think the Ravens are the the more talented team, and as long as they execute the way they did in Kansas City, they will give themselves the opportunity to win.  If they come out slow, and sluggish, and muddle through the first half, turning the ball over, the game could be over by half time.  I think the difference is going to be Joe Flacco.  The defense will do what they do.  The Steelers will put up between 10-17 points.  Joe will be the difference maker.  As long as he doesn’t turn the ball over, and makes enough plays, the Ravens win.  No question.  If Joe reverts back to bad mechanics, poor decision making, and lets the Steeler defense rattle him, the Ravens lose.

My prediciton….Ravens 17, Steelers 10.

Hopefully, then, the Jets would be able to pull off the upset of the Patriots and next weekend, we are celebrating the AFC Championship Game down at M&T Bank Stadium, and it catapults the Ravens to the Super Bowl, ten years after their first appearance.

GO RAVENS!!!!!!!  Let’s end the Pittsburgh playoff curse.