Updated: Nov 1, 2020
(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
The Steelers will have another five-star matchup, as Mike Tomlin likes to say, against the Ravens on Sunday in Baltimore. With the Steelers at 6-0 and the Ravens with a record of 5-1 heading into Week 8, this game has huge implications when it comes to who might be the winner of the AFC North come playoff time.
"We're back in the kitchen. It's AFC North ball, and you know we like that," Tomlin said during his weekly press conference. "We respect it. It's cool to be in, what we believe, is the game of the week for the third week in a row. We're humbly honored to be in that. We like to show that respect by how we prepare and ultimately by how we play."
Via Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, according to Elias Sports Bureau, the Steelers three-game stretch (Browns, Titans and Ravens) is the first time since 2004 a team will play three consecutive games against teams with one or fewer losses this far into a season (Week 6 or later). The Patriots played the Seahawks (3-1), Jets (5-0) and Steelers (5-1) on Weeks 6-8. The Patriots won their first two games but lost to the Steelers, 34-20, at Heinz Field.
The Steelers are 14-15 (including playoffs) under Mike Tomlin against the Ravens and are 5-8 when playing in Baltimore. During Tomlin's tenure since 2007, the Steelers and Ravens have had 20 once score games and 14 games decided by three points or less. Of the one-score games since 2007, the Steelers and Ravens are split even at 10-10. The Ravens hold an 8-6 edge in games decided by three points or less.
"You know what the Ravens games are about," Tomlin said. "They are a top-notch organization and football team. They have talent across the board. They're familiar with us. We're familiar with them. There's continuity within schematics and both staffs and core players and things, and I think that's what adds to the intrigue. We should anticipate it being a physical and rough-and-tumble game because history tells us that, and how the two teams are playing this year also gives you that indication."
With the Steelers-Titans game originally scheduled for Week 4 and then pushed back to Week 7 due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the Titans' organization, the Steelers-Ravens Week 7 game was pushed back to Week 8, resulting in the Ravens having their bye last week instead of this upcoming week. So from a competitive standpoint, the Ravens have the edge in time to rest and prepare for the Steelers.
"We realize that we’ve got AFC North ball next week on the road,” Tomlin said after the win over the Titans on Sunday. “We’re going to a group that has seven days’ advantage on us, so there’s a lot for us to be urgent about.”
Tomlin isn't worried about his team facing the slight adversity of playing against a rested Ravens team. Since 2008, when John Harbaugh was hired as the Ravens' head coach, Baltimore holds a 10-2 record in their next game following a bye week and are 7-1 at home. It won't be an easy task for the Steelers on Sunday and they are fully aware of that.
"I don't have any concern about their focus, or overconfidence, or anything of that nature," Tomlin said about his team. "We have respect for the Baltimore Ravens and AFC North football and playing ball in their venue this week. We have enough veterans on our team who know and understand that and that history, and so we look forward to getting to work (Wednesday)."