The Ravens-Steelers matchup on Sunday is the matchup on the NFL’s weekend slate of games that immediately draws attention.
The Steelers (6-0) are the league’s only unbeaten team left. The Ravens (5-1) are at home looking to take over the top spot in the AFC North. And it’s a game that everyone knows, one way or another, will be one of the most, if not the most, physical games of the season.
“We’re back in the kitchen, man,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday. “It’s AFC North ball. You know we like that. We respect it. It’s cool to be in what we believe is the game of the week for the third week in a row. We are humbly honored to be in that. We like to show that respect with how we prepare and then ultimately how we play. You know what the Ravens games are about, man.”
Pittsburgh and Baltimore know each other well, but one fresh face sure to make his presence known is defensive end Calais Campbell.
The massive defensive end is set to make a difference up front, where seemingly all Ravens-Steelers games are decided.
“Calais Campbell is a new addition up front — that’s a goon, man, that really gets after people,” Tomlin said. “We’re familiar with him over the course of his career and playing him a number of times. He has been an awesome addition to them. You just put that Philadelphia Eagles game on, and it speaks for itself.”
Campbell won’t be the only new addition to the rivalry.
Chris Wormley, who might not play, is experiencing his first Ravens-Steelers game in the black and gold. Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen will be thrust into a massive game as just a rookie -- and perhaps the most impactful rookie -- on Sunday.
The Steelers recently beat the Titans, another hard-nosed football team, albeit with a bit of a different style on the ground. In that regard, the Steelers have been prepped to play the Ravens already.
“They’re a tough nut to crack,” Tomlin said. “We have to be really good versus the run in this game, but it’s a very different challenge than maybe the Tennessee Titans or New York Football Giants because of the diversity in the run game and the multitude of people you have to contend with.”
The Steelers will march into Baltimore with an unbeaten record, and yet, something to prove.
With a win, they’ll move to two games ahead of the Ravens (with a game in hand) and make life mighty difficult for the Ravens to play catch-up. But that certainly doesn’t mean the Steelers are looking past their biggest rivals.
"I don't have any concern about their focus, or overconfidence, or anything of that nature," Tomlin said. "We have respect for the Baltimore Ravens and AFC North football and playing ball in their venue this week. We have enough veterans on our team who know and understand that and that history, and so we look forward to getting to work."