Rival Ravens, Steelers seeking win

  • Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, right, and Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh greet each other after their NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Chicago Bears linebackers Aaron Lynch (99) and Khalil Mack (52) celebrate Mack's hit to cause a fumble by the Washington Redskins during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Sept. 23, 2019, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

  • Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) hits Washington Redskins quarterback Case Keenum (8) to cause a fumble during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Sept. 23, 2019, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera yells during the first half of an NFL football game agains the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

  • Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, right, talks with Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury prior to an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey (44) disrupts a pass intended for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

  • Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) is sacked by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Pernell McPhee during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

  • Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) scores a touchdown in front of Kansas City Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen (49) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

AP Pro Football Writer
Published: 10/5/2019 9:48:52 PM
Modified: 10/5/2019 9:48:50 PM

The fact that neither team has a winning record doesn’t diminish one bit the intensity of the rivalry between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers.

If it is not the most historic series in NFL history, it’s as intense as any. Just listen to what John Harbaugh told his players this week, heading into their visit to Pittsburgh.

“One of the things that was said in the meetings ... is that you’re not a Raven until you beat the Steelers,” Harbaugh said. “We have some young guys that still need to beat the Steelers.”

To remain on top of the AFC North, that’s exactly what Baltimore (2-2) must do. Cleveland is tied with the Ravens, and the Steelers are 1-3 but come off a convincing intra-division victory against Cincinnati.

But even if both squads were 0-4, the passion, the hard hits and the fervor of the crowd would make it a highlight of Week 5.

“No matter who is playing,” Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley said, “this rivalry is going to be one of the biggest rivalries in all of sports.”

While Ravens-Steelers meetings often are decided in the trenches, Pittsburgh’s coaches and players know that stopping fast, versatile and elusive Lamar Jackson is critical to having a chance against Baltimore.

Green Bay (3-1) at Dallas (3-1)

Even with both teams losing last week — the Packers’ defense showed little, and the Cowboys’ offense showed even less — this is a juicy matchup. It almost always seems to be.

The Packers have won seven of the past eight in this series, with Dallas’ victory coming during a franchise-record 11-game winning streak when QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott were rookies in 2016. And the Packers are 3-0 at AT&T Stadium, including a Super Bowl victory against Pittsburgh.

Green Bay could be missing WR Davante Adams, who had a career-high 180 yards receiving against the Eagles but left early with a turf toe injury.

Tampa Bay (2-2) at New Orleans (3-1)

The Bucs stunned the Saints in the season opener at the Louisiana Superdome last season. Now, they come off scoring a single-game record 55 points on the road against the defending NFC champion Rams.

New Orleans needs that strong pass rush it showed last week in downing Dallas, because Jameis Winston has passed for at least 375 yards and three TDs in two straight outings. In Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, he had dynamic wideouts who each have four TD receptions, tied for first in the NFL.

Cleveland (2-2) at S.F. (3-0) (Monday night)

No team is more of a pleasant surprise than the 49ers. Coming off a bye, they could move ahead of the Rams and Seahawks in the standings by remaining undefeated. But Cleveland has won four of the past five in this series between the NFL’s two worst franchises from 2015-18. The Browns are 11-52-1 in that span; 49ers 17-47.

Cleveland’s balanced offense led by running back Nick Chubb and receiver Jarvis Landry was huge in last week’s win at Baltimore. The Browns are tied for first place in the AFC North with the Ravens, the first time since Week 10 in 2014 they were on top of the division.

Indianapolis (2-2) at Kansas City (4-0)

This is their second meeting of 2019, with the Chiefs’ win over Indianapolis in January their first home playoff victory since Jan. 8, 1994. The Chiefs seek to start 5-0 for a third consecutive season and are odds-on to get it: KC is 11-2 under coach Andy Reid in October. Reid needs one win to reach 200 regular-season victories. He has 211 total, sixth most in NFL history.

Atlanta (1-3) at Houston (2-2)

The Falcons don’t prosper against the AFC. They have lost six straight and 12 of their past 13 to AFC opponents. If they don’t improve their turnover margin (minus-5), they can’t expect to contend.

Houston, meanwhile, is a plus-2 and has forced a turnover in 17 consecutive games, the NFL’s longest active streak.

Minnesota (2-2) at N.Y. Giants (2-2)

The Giants were buried by so many pundits after their first two losses. Then Daniel Jones moved in at quarterback for Eli Manning and, now, the G-Men could wind up tied for the NFC East lead with a win here and a Dallas loss.

The Vikings lost five straight outdoor road games, including 16-6 last week at Chicago.

Jacksonville (2-2) at Carolina (2-2)

Both of these teams were buried after 2-0 starts and injuries to starting QBs Nick Foles and Cam Newton. Guess what! The winner here, whether the Jaguars with rookie Gardner Minshew, or the Panthers with Kyle Allen, also could find itself looking down at the rest of its division.

Buffalo (3-1) at Tennessee (2-2)

The teams that brought us the Music City Miracle in 2000 — Buffalo folks are still arguing that lateral was a forward pass — meet up in what rarely has been a good series for the Bills. They trail it 28-18, though they have won two straight vs. the Titans by one point each. The Bills can match the franchise’s longest streak to start a season since 1993 with a third road win, but starting QB Josh Allen has been in the NFL’s concussion protocol.

Chicago (3-1) vs. Oakland (2-2) (at London)

Oakland’s early season trek continues with a trip across the Pond. The Raiders will find there one Khalil Mack, the edge rusher they traded to Chicago before last season. All Mack has done is lead the most rugged defense in football.

Arizona (0-3-1) at Cincinnati (0-4)

There are reasons to watch this game. We just can’t think of any at the moment.

N.Y. Jets (0-3) at Philadelphia (2-2)

New York has been hopeful that Sam Darnold will return less than a month after contracting mononucleosis. One must hope coach Adam Gase isn’t thinking about rushing back his franchise quarterback, particularly with this season seemingly a lost cause.

Denver (0-4) at L.A. Chargers (2-2)

One disappointing team, and one total flop through 25 percent of the season.

The Broncos have perfected losing close games, and struggle moving the ball on the ground and stopping the run. Which means LA, much more proficient through the air, might give lots of work to its deep stable of running backs.

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