When asked what he told younger players about the Ravens/Steelers rivalry Hines Ward said, “Just hit anything in purple and black.” That’s what this series has become. While the National Football League is pushing towards what you saw on Thursday Night between the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers (42-34), the black and blue match-up between the two top teams in the AFC North has bucked the trend and remained a low scoring physical slobber-knocker.

Forget about the fantasy value of the wide receivers and running backs. Don’t even look at the big plays on the offense. This match-up has become one that viewers can feel through the television screen. Even last year’s 31-24 final score in the Divisional Play-offs felt more like 14-10. It  just looks tough to gain two-yards in this series. Both teams look to want to maim one another on every play. No one wants to give an inch, yet a yard or a first down. It’s a through back of what football use to be.

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I have to admit, I am a fan of Thursday Night’s season opener, but I still enjoy what the Ravens and Steelers do to one another. They embody everything that the two respective cities stand for and they take pride in it as well.

Even though those two teams play one another this way, it seems that they’ve built their teams to resemble the wide open offenses that we’re seeing in the NFL. The Ravens upgraded their skill position players and offensive line this season, so you would think Ray Rice would benefit from those moves. Joe Flacco is expected to improve, yet again, with the addition of Lee Evans.

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The Steelers have been building toward this for about three years, and maybe that’s why they’ve had the Ravens’ number during that time. Just don’t expect either team to bust out the whippin’ stick on one another offensively Sunday. I’m thinking there will be a total of 40 points if we’re lucky.

Steelers 20 Ravens 16

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Rob Long