Following their well-deserved, much-needed bye week in the first round of the NFL playoffs, the Pittsburgh Steelers eye a familiar opponent in the aptly named divisional round of the postseason: the Baltimore Ravens. Saturday afternoon's AFC North brawl will mark the second time in three years that the two teams have clashed in the playoffs. During the regular season, the two squads each won on one other's fields, though it's worth mentioning that Baltimore was unable to best Pittsburgh with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger under center.
The first bit of news out of Pittsburgh is that safety Troy Polamalu will be limited in practice this week after taking the entire bye off with an Achilles injury that kept him off the field at various points this year. He was able to go in Week 17, though, so hopefully he'll be close to 100% when Baltimore comes to town. Defensive end Aaron Smith, who's been out for months with a torn triceps, will not play on Saturday, but could suit up for the AFC championship, should the Steelers advance to next week.
On the other side of the AFC playoff picture, the New York Jets will visit Foxboro for another shot at the red-hot New England Patriots, in keeping with the "divisional" theme of this weekend. These AFC East teams split their regular season slate, as well, which culminated in the Pats dismantling the Jets 45-3 on national television early in December.
Steelers fans will of course be rooting for New York, who could force an AFC championship game at Heinz Field if they bounce back and upset the Patriots and Pittsburgh handles the Ravens. Notably, the three remaining AFC squads are among the four teams in the league that beat Pittsburgh in the regular season. However, no one did so as convincingly as the Patriots; it would be nice for the Steelers to avoid a trip to Foxboro.