Sunday, January 18, 2009

2009 AFC Championship: Steelers vs Ravens

Today, 4 NFL teams play for the right to earn the Super Bowl trophy as they square off in the NFC and AFC Championship games.

Game 1 today features the Philadelphia Eagles vs Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, AZ. With so many story lines - from the underdog showdown to Kurt Warner's comeback (he's on his 4th or 5th by now) to Donovan McNabb's quest for his first Super Bowl title - this has all of the pieces for an instant classic.

Game 2 features the Baltimore Ravens vs Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, PA. What many people fail to realize is that, although Cleveland is Pittsburgh's most bitter rival, this Ravens franchise picked up and moved from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1996. Even with the return of the Browns franchise to Cleveland, the Pittsburgh/Baltimore rivalry has evolved into one just as heated as its predecessor.

Having been a Steelers fan all my life I have been blessed to witness many great Steelers teams, players, and of course coaches roam the sidelines for the black and gold. This year's team features probably one of the stoutest defenses of all that I've witnessed and it compares nicely to an equally impressive Ravens defense.

The main storyline behind the game today, though, is revenge. Can the Ravens avenge both of their losses from earlier in the season? 

If you recall, the Steelers won 23-20 on a Jeff Reed field goal in OT during the first meeting. The second time around, Baltimore had control of the game until a late fourth quarter rally, cappedd off by a controversial touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes. Fittingly enough, the 13-9 Steelers win clinched the AFC North division title for Pittsburgh.

So what will give this evening? Which defense can bend and not break? With home home-field advantage I have to give the edge to the Steelers. In another close battle, look for the Steelers to win on a late fourth quarter field goal by Jeff Reed.

Prediction: Terrible towels 17, silly Ravens band 14.

This may be an old video, but it is fitting for what you will see at Heinz Field tonight. Myron will be proud.

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