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Sunday Night Football Preview: A Classic AFC North Clash

Who prevails in the latest AFC North fist fight?

If you were to take someone off the street who had never watched a single snap of NFL football and had them watch a series of games to introduce the product, you would be hard pressed to find many games that represent what professional football is all about more than the rivalry between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Grit, determination, blood, sweat and tears comprise the makeup of these games, and regardless of where either team sits in the standings, you can always wager on each game being a fitting new chapter in this long standing rivalry.

In regular season contests dating back to 2008, the Ravens have won seven of the last 13 matchups. The Steelers have also beaten the Ravens twice in the postseason in that time frame. The Steelers look to even up the regular season score at seven a piece in the latest chapter this Sunday under the lights at Heinz Field.

Pittsburgh enters this contest as winners of two straight, and they're coming off a virtuoso quarterback performance from Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for 522 yards and 6 touchdowns in Week 7’s 51-34 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Big Ben’s performance stands as the fourth-highest single-game passing yardage total in NFL history, and it shot him up the leaderboard in our key metric - Net Expected Points (NEP) – which we use to show how many points a player adds to his team’s overall score. Prior to last week’s history-making game, Roethlisberger sat at 16th in Passing NEP and 22nd in Passing NEP per play among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts. Heading into Week 9, he now sits eighth in Passing NEP and 12th in Passing NEP per play.

The Ravens, on the other hand, enter this contest off a tough loss to the AFC North leading Cincinnati Bengals. They have been an elite team according to our team numbers, featuring a top-seven offense and top-five defense. Joe Flacco ranks ninth in Passing NEP, and the ageless Steve Smith has the 11th-best Reception NEP among wide receivers.

Each team is looking to keep pace in the AFC, and per our advanced metrics, this looks to be another closely contested match. Let’s see how this one shakes out.

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