The fate of the AFC North and the Cincinnati Bengals’ playoff hopes are resting on the injured should of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger. Since 2004, Ben is 9-4 against the Baltimore Ravens, so if he is able to play this week vs. the Ravens, the Steelers’ chances of winning go up significantly, and at 6-5, a win would put them at two games behind Baltimore with four games remaining.
If he doesn’t play, it will be very difficult for Pitt to win in Baltimore given that they’re already 0-4 vs. the Ravens sincce 2004 without Big Ben. ESPN’s Ed Werder is now reporting that Roethlisberger has a 35% chance of playing Sunday, and another loss coupled with a win by the Bengals would give Cincinnati a one-game lead for the final wild card berth.
After last week’s breakthrough win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, a game that featured the Cleveland Browns forcing an unheard of eight turnovers, CB Joe Haden believes the Browns have a top-five NFL defense. The fact that Cleveland is 3-3 with Haden in the lineup vs. 0-5 without him just shows how much the Pro Bowl corner affects the Browns’ defense.
The Ravens defense has gone from being a major liability over the first seven weeks of the NFL season. After getting a much-needed rest period in their Week 8 bye week, they’ve allowed an average of 15 points per game in the midst of a four-game winning-streak. Much of that is due to the improved play of OLB Paul Kruger, who has notched four sacks in the past three games.