Originally posted on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 11/5/11

I'm not quite sure how we've been cursed with so many primetime duds this season. It might have something to do with the fact that teams are coming out of nowhere to be contenders, and those teams weren't given many Sunday and Monday night time slots. Or, it might be that the Colts were rewarded with 5 primetime games this season only to find out that they are the worst team in the NFL, although the guys down in South Beach might have something to say about that claim. Regardless of any of the previously listed reasons, we're in for a real treat this week.

The Steelers are coming into their Sunday night match-up against the Baltimore Ravens with a 6-2 record and a 4 game winning streak. They lead the Ravens and the Bengals in the AFC North by a half game, but they don't hold any inter-division ties right now. That's the Ravens' advantage. The Ravens were able to man-handle the Steelers from start to finish in their opening week match-up, and a win by the Ravens would secure the tie-breaker in favor of the Ravens between the two teams.

That's not all that's on the line Sunday night, however. This is possibly the most heated rivalry in football. These teams simply loathe each other. I'm sure if you asked Ray Lewis, he'd tell you that he hoped the Steelers lost every one of their remaining games by 50 points each, and I'm sure any Steelers players would say the same thing about the Ravens. This game is more than an NFC West slap-fest, it's an all out war.

While both teams are 4-1 in their last 5 games, the Ravens come in struggling to find their offensive identity. It took an almost super-human effort for them to overcome a 24-3 hole. That game, came on the heels of their 12-7 loss to the 2-6 Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that was able to beat the Ravens with 4 field goals. To say the least, the Ravens have been struggling of late.

That's not the case in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have been growing as a team offensively and defensively. While the Ravens were struggling to find a way to beat the Cardinals, the Steelers were having their way with Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. The win was a statement by the Steelers that said, "We are back."

For all the hype that went into their week 1 match-up, it was a relatively disappointing game to watch from start to finish. The Steelers couldn't avoid throwing interceptions, and when they weren't throwing picks, they were fumbling the ball away. Everyone knew after that game that the Steelers were a far better football team than they showed. I'm still not sure if they were sluggish due to the lockout, if they weren't in shape, other factors, or a combination of the three, but that's behind them now.

With apologies to a great game between LSU and Alabama on Saturday night, my focus will be entirely on the Steelers and the Ravens this weekend. It's an unbelievably bitter rivalry that has NFL fanatics such as myself salivating just thinking about it. Sunday Night Football has been my nap time all season long, but that changes tomorrow night.

Follow @smaclemons on Twitter [follow]

This article first appeared on This Given Sunday and was syndicated with permission.

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