Despite what some may sense as a commanding lead for Baltimore, the AFC North is largely still up for grabs. The Ravens travel to New York to take on the Giants, while the Ravens will be in Cleveland to play the Browns.
Pittsburgh @ New York Giants
The Steelers have won two straight, improving to 4-3 on the season. Many thought that the Steelers were in trouble after their loss in Tennessee a handful of weeks ago. But victories over the Bengals and Redskins have put them right back into the division race with only one game behind the Baltimore Ravens.
This Sunday's meeting between the Steelers and Giants feature two of the big three quarterbacks from the class of the 2004 NFL Draft, with many NFL experts exploring a question of which quarterback is better. Both quarterbacks have two Super Bowl rings and it is quite likely that neither team would trade their own for the other.
The Steelers will obviously face a tough challenge on Sunday going up against the reigning Super Bowl champions, compounded by the East Coast storms this week which has forced the Steelers to schedule an early Sunday morning arrival in New York. This could hurt a team currently 1-3 on the road.
Running back Jonathan Dwyer, with over 100 yards in consecutive weeks, is doubtful but Isaac Redman should be ready. If the Giants can actually get Ben Roethlisberger on the ground with a substantial pass rush, they will have a distinct advantage over a Steelers team leading the world on third down conversions.
The Ravens head to Cleveland this Sunday in the only division game for Week Nine. The Ravens narrowly squeaked by the Browns several weeks ago and have since lost their top corner LarDarius Webb and their defensive soul leader Ray Lewis to injuries.
Will this cause Baltimore to lose their grip on the division?
Cleveland's developing into a dangerous team that could pull off the unexpected upset. The Browns looked sloppy in wet conditions last Sunday, but held the Chargers to only six points. If Brandon Weeden continues to improve and Trent Richardson struts around with a productive day (something Ravens opponents have enjoyed on the ground this season), the Browns will have a great shot at getting their third win of the season.
Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata remains football's version of day-to-day and if the league's most fearsome defensive tackle is out, Richardson will definitely get his yards. The Browns likely get receiver Mohamed Massaquoi back from a hamstring injury, helping Weeden and the Browns passing offense. The Ravens really need this win to fend off Pittsburgh and keep their boots on Cincinnati's proverbial throat, as their schedule only gets more difficult as the season goes along.