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screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-8-54-49-amRaven vs. Steelers

2016 NFL Week #9

All Eyes on Pennsylvania.

November. It’s here and there are major contests a-happening. And Pennsylvania is in the vortex.  No matter where you stand politically, you know the Keystone State is important. However, you may not know why we’re the Keystone State. I’m not sure either, but it’s better than being the Kidneystone State. Ouch.

Now the fine people at Steel City Buzz never like me to mix football with politics and I agree. However, when the stakes are as high as they are for both the Steelers and the presidential candidates, some crossover is inevitable. One contest this Sunday is already a must-win for both the Steelers and the Ravens; the one on Tuesday is a must-win for the free world.

My love of politics is only matched by my love of football and you can see it on display at AND Magazine (andmagazine.com/us/1477952349.html). But in keeping with my editor’s wishes here, I will only hint at who I’m voting for (it sorta rhymes with “Artillery Badminton”).

But enough about me. There are important matters that need to be discussed, and no matter your stance on the state of the nation, that concern is dwarfed by the state of Ben Roethlisberger’s surgically-repaired knee!

As of this writing, Ben has already practiced on his brave meniscus, and it seems that there’s a 75%-25% chance he will play, the same chance that Nate Silver on fivethirtyeight.com gives Distillery Stilton winning Pennsylvania.

And oh, what a bye week can do! Not only will Big Ben be back, but so will Marcus Gilbert, Markus Wheaton and Cameron “Markiss” Heyward. Gilbert, arguably the Steelers’ best offensive lineman, will be pivotal in keeping Ben upright.

This Sunday’s game not only has profound playoff implications, it also finds both teams in unfamiliar territory: the Ravens victims of a 4-game losing streak; the Steelers, 2 games. However, the Steelers did win the bye week against Medical Science.

This game, like Tuesday’s presidential election, is hard to decipher. Perhaps home field will be the difference. And unlike elections, turnout will be 100%.

WHEN THE STEELERS HAVE THE BALL

Just today, I had the very good fortune of speaking to Big Ben’s meniscus. “Manny” as he likes to be called looked a bit bloody and bruised, but the stitches had been removed and he was in a good frame of mind…knee.

“I’ve had a lot of support the past few weeks, not just from the doctors and the walking brace, but also from a lot of fellow body parts he’s injured. Sternoclavicular Joint told me to, “Hang in there. Everything heals.” I got a very nice “get well” card from Achilles Tendon and a phone call from Fourth Metacarpal. It really helps to know that your brothers in arms…and legs and knees really care.”

With Ben on the mend friends, the passing game may not be dominant and a gimpy Roethlisberger may not be able to scramble away from the Ravens pass rush. BUT all his receivers are healthy. Ben and Manny will be asked to manage the game, not win it.

And that means the Steelers’ 24th ranked running game needs to step it up. And that’s a tall order against the Ravens’ 3rd ranked rushing defense. It would be like Pillory Flinton winning Texas. But we have Le’Veon, so all bets are off.

WHEN THE RAVENS HAVE THE BALL

Now here’s the good news. Baltimore’s offense is mediocre at best. Yes, Joe Flacco is capable of lighting it up, but he’s been inconsistent of late. He does get two starters back on the offensive line (Marshall Yanda and Ronnie Stanley), so his protection should be better.

Let’s go, Steelers rush!

I hear rumors that the Ravens do have a rushing attack, but you know how unsubstantiated last-minute rumors can have a big effect on a campaign game plan. But the Steelers D-Line is healthy and should force the Ravens to airforce one air it out more than they’d like to.

PERILOUS PREDICTION

Magic 8-Ball got a lot of grief and lots of nasty emails after he nailed the game prediction against the Patriots two weeks ago. I would read a few of these emails, but I think they were deleted… by accident. All 30,000 of them. Oh man, what a Weiner I am!

Anyway, this is a tough game to predict. I think it will be low scoring and within the margin of error, something like 49% to 45%. But that all depends on Florida.

Oh Magic 8-Ball, what is your take on this most difficult contest to predict?

(shaking Magic 8-Ball like I will be shaking if Millary Vinton loses New Hampshire.)

Magic 8-Ball says, “Don’t sweat it dude! PA+5.”

FINAL SCORE: Steelers 21. Ravens 16.

Phil Lebovits, SCB Steeler Blogger, In a voting booth down by the river

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