It’s a bit hard to believe, but the NFL season is already almost half way through, which means that division races are starting to heat up as it becomes clear which teams are going to be competing for playoff spots. One of the most intriguing races will be occurring in our very own AFC North, where there is a somewhat surprising three-way tangle for the top spot. As expected, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens are there, but it’s been the Cincinnati Bengals who have been the surprise team thus far. Who knew Andy Dalton would have as many wins as Tom Brady at this point in the season? With such tight race, you will definitely want to tune in to your direct tv football package this Sunday for this weeks games as the Ravens visit Pittsburgh and the Bengals visit Tennessee.
In week 1, the Ravens stunned the football world by annihilating the Steelers in Baltimore, 35-7. While most people fully expected the Ravens to be a contender this year, this team had not had much success against Pittsburgh in recent years, and the Steelers, too, were expected to contend. After week 1, however, fans and analysts alike began to ask the question of whether the Steelers’ core might be aging a bit, and if the Ravens might be ready to take over the division. Seven weeks later, however, the Steelers are one of the hottest teams in football, holding a 6-2 record that includes a recent victory over the Patriots. While nobody’s season will be decided indefinitely on Sunday, the tide will certainly have turned one way or another by the end of the latest edition of this great rivalry.
Going into the halftime last week, the Ravens looked like they could be in a bit of trouble. Their offense sputtered against the Jaguars and then gave the Cardinals too many opportunities. However, Joe Flacco was able to find his groove and began finding his receivers, especially Anquan Boldin who ended the game with 145 yards receiving, and also drew a number of crucial pass interference penalties. Let’s also not forget Boldin’s insane one-handed catch against the Cardinals.
The Bengals, on the other hand are playing a weaker schedule and have 4 games games left against these two other teams. It is believed that they will eventually fall out of the race, and that will make this game all the more important for the division race and a 1st Round Bye. While there are plenty of weeks left in the season and this is by no means a “must-win” for either team, both will be gunning for a win probably a bit harder than usual. If Pittsburgh takes the game, they’ll move to 7-2 and increase their hold on the division. However, if Baltimore can manage a second straight win over their rivals, they’ll move into a the drivers seat for the remainder of the sason. Whatever happens, this one should be great to watch.