The Baltimore Ravens were sitting pretty during their bye week, riding a three-game winning streak to an AFC North-best 5-2 record. On the first day of games for Week Seven, they watched the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals continue to absolutely embarrass themselves. The former felt 2-5, winless since they beat Baltimore, the latter—well, I’ll let you know when they actually win a game.
It was looking like a clean sweep after one quarter in last night’s game, but the Pittsburgh Steelers rallied from a 14-point deficit to score 27 unanswered points and stack wins together for the first time all year. After starting the season 0-3, and then getting into a 1-4 hole, they are now 3-4 on the year, just a game under .500 and two games behind the Ravens.
With an interesting schedule lined up. While both the Indianapolis Colts and the Los Angeles Rams, their next two opponents, are worthy competition for sure, Pittsburgh has the advantage of playing both at home during a three-game stand. They then play the Browns, Bengals, and Browns again—away, away, and then at home—to cap off the next five-game stretch.
Meanwhile, the Ravens’ next opponent is the New England Patriots, who are 7-0 on the season and really haven’t looked to be tested very much all year. Their defense is playing at an absolutely phenomenal level, but will be strained by Baltimore’s unique running game with Lamar Jackson. Their discipline will be crucial.
After the Patriots, they get an away game against the Bengals, but then have to face the Houston Texans, followed by another road game against the Rams, and finally the San Francisco 49ers, who like the Patriots have not lost a game this season and appear to have the Defensive Rookie of the Year frontrunner in Nick Bosa.
The next five weeks should be very interesting. I have a hard time imagining the Ravens being able to beat the Patriots. The Steelers have to make up ground, at the minimum one game, during this stretch, as they prepare for a meeting in the season finale.
While the Ravens already have a game in-hand against the Steelers when they faced one another, Pittsburgh could hold serve by remaining otherwise undefeated in the division, as Baltimore already lost to the Browns.
If Pittsburgh could enter the finale one game back to the Ravens with a 4-1 division record, and knock off Baltimore, then they would be in position to take the division by virtue of a division-record tiebreaker, as the Ravens would have two divisional losses.
But even riding a two-game winning streak, we’re still in Jim Mora territory when it concerns the playoffs. The next month of games will tell us everything we need to know about who these two teams are.