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The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens 19-14 on Wednesday afternoon to remain undefeated.
Baltimore’s defense kept the Ravens within reach, despite receiving little help from its offense, which was without Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, and J.K. Dobbins. But take nothing away from the 11-0 Steelers. Division games are always hard-fought; see Chiefs-Raiders twice, Vikings-Packers.
Pittsburgh fits the traditional description of a Super Bowl team. They have the NFL’s best defense. Unless Aaron Donald is available, there isn’t a defender more impactful play-to-play than TJ Watt, who wrecks game plans early and late. His co-stars, Bud Dupree and Minkah Fitzpatrick, fly around the field. (Unfortunately, Dupree tore an ACL during the game and will miss the rest of the season.)
Their offense, led by a rejuvenated Ben Roethlisberger, is efficient and knows what it can and cannot do.
The first seed, and its subsequent sole first-round bye, is not a lock for Pittsburgh yet. Kansas City is just one game behind. Though with a lead and an easier schedule, the Steelers should hold on. They still have to face the Football Team, Bills, Bengals, Colts, and Browns. Find two losses.
Whether they end up the first seed or the second seed, the Steelers are better than the Chiefs. I’ll have more on this in my weekly AFC breakdown this week, but Kansas City continues to play a dangerous game of light-switch, going from hot to cold, on-and-off. Last postseason against weak QBs, that formula worked. It won’t work against Big Ben. And as great as Patrick Mahomes is, he’s not tossing the ball like a game of catch against the Pittsburgh defense.
Come Super Bowl time, expect to see the Steelers walk out of the locker room.
As for the Ravens, they came into the season as near Super Bowl co-favorites with the Chiefs. Now, just making the playoffs will be an uphill battle. Despite three Wild Cards spots, the Ravens (6-5) trail the Browns (8-3), Dolphins (7-4), Colts (7-4), and are tied with the Raiders (6-5), who are better. The good news is that the Cowboys, Browns, Jags, Giants, and Bengals are their upcoming opponents, so their remaining schedule is favorable.