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Sunday Night Football Open Thread: Ravens v. Steelers

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Tonight we have a division battle within the AFC North. Talk Sunday Night Football on Battle Red Blog in this open thread.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

No Leaders of Cheer

I usually give the home team the honors of an image of their stadium and/or cheerleaders for the Sunday Night Football open thread, but the Steelers don't have cheerleaders, so we will instead honor the Ravens' cheerleader squad.  It is interesting to note that the "Steelerettes" were the first cheerleading squad in the NFL, serving as cheerleaders from 1961 through 1969.

There are only six NFL teams without cheerleaders: Chicago Bears, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.

Team Comparisons

Both teams are 5-3 on the season, both teams are 3-1 at home,  and both teams are 2-2 on the road.  The Ravens hold a slight edge with a 2-2 division record, and they are 2-3 in the AFC.  The Steelers are 1-2 in the division and 4-2 in the conference overall.

The comparative stats, provided by NFL.com, are very close:

Ravens

The visiting Baltimore Ravens are coming off a 24-27 close loss in Cincinnati last week.  Steve Smith caught what would could have been a game winning 80-yard touchdown pass, but it was wiped out as he was called for an offensive pass interference penalty.  The Bengals took sole possession as leaders in the AFC North with a 4-2-1 record.

The Ravens will look to bounce back tonight, and they'll need their pass rush to slow down a Steelers offense that is simply on fire.  Baltimore's pass rush is led by Elvis Dumervil, who is just behind his former Broncos teammate Von Miller in pursuit of the NFL sack title.  Dumervil is tied with J.J. Watt with 7 sacks so far this season, while Von Miller has 9.  The league leader with 10 sacks is Justin Houston of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Steelers

Pittsburgh is riding wild behind "Big Ben" after a boat-race with the Colts last week that ended in a stunning 51-34 victory at Heinz Field.  This was certainly a performance for the record books.

From NFL.com:

Roethlisberger joined Tom Brady, Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw as the only quarterbacks in league history to win 100 games in 150 or fewer starts.

No other quarterback has ever matched his 81.63 completion rate or 10.65 yards per attempt on 49 or more throws.

Roethlisberger became the first quarterback with two games over 500 passing yards, setting single-game franchise records for passing yards (522), touchdown passes (six) and completions (40).

This offense joined the 1972 and 1975 Steelers as the only outfits in Pittsburgh history to score at least 30 points in four of the first eight games of the season. They are on pace to flirt with the franchise record for total points in a season, set by the 1979 team.

The 639 yards of offense are the third most in franchise history and the most ever allowed by the Colts.

Andrew Luck also had a big day, throwing for 400 yards and three touchdowns, but he turned the ball over with two interceptions and was responsible for a safety when called for intentional grounding while in his own end zone during the fourth quarter.  Notwithstanding those mistakes, the game would have "allegedly" been a lot closer.

The Steelers have enjoyed two back-to-back victories at home over the Texans and Colts.  Tonight is their third consecutive home game, and they'll be looking to continue that momentum against their division rival.

Pull up a seat and settle in with your favorite cold beverage for what should be a very close game.  Most Texans fans will likely be rooting for a stadium-devouring sink-hole or random falling space objects to take out both of these AFC teams.   The floor is yours, and the usual rules apply.