In this season's first Thursday night game, the Atlanta Falcons orchestrated a last-minute, 26-21 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, much to the delight of Pittsburgh Steelers fans everywhere.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan dissected the Ravens pass defense all night, going 32-for-50 and protecting the football, despite the lack of a complementary rushing attack. Roddy White, who might just be the best wide receiver in the league, scored his second touchdown of the evening (video) with less than a minute left to give the Falcons the lead. It was a great call by Atlanta: they anticipated the Baltimore blitz and rolled Ryan out left, giving him time to hit White deep. The Baltimore defense expected short, quick strikes to keep the chains moving, but Atlanta went for the kill and executed beautifully.
This moves the Ravens to 6-3; however, they still possess the tie-breaker over the Steelers after beating them in Week 4. A Pittsburgh win this Sunday night against the New England Patriots (also 6-2) would render that moot, improving the Steelers to 7-2, good for the division lead.
Regardless of whether or not Pittsburgh seizes the opportunity this Sunday, it seems like this divisional race will come down to the wire. In fact, don't be surprised if the Steelers and Ravens finish with the two best records in the conference. Obviously, their Week 13 matchup in Baltimore will take on enormous importance.
I was confident in the Steelers when they hosted the Ravens in Week 3, a game they narrowly lost, 17-13. Needless to say, after seeing Ryan pick apart Baltimore's defense, I like Pittsburgh's chances against the Ravens in Week 13, too, especially with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger under center this time.
Let's utilize results from the regular season thus far and one of the most rigorous metrics* in the sports journalist's toolbox, the transitive property, and try to make sense of all this:
Woah. I think I just blew my own little pundit mind. We'll just have to see how this divisional race shapes out over the next month.
For the time being, the Steelers have the Patriots to worry about.
*WARNING: MAY NOT ACTUALLY BE RIGOROUS AT ALL