By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It’s a rivalry that needs no introduction.

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It’s AFC North football and as Head Coach Mike Tomlin refers to it, “the blast furnace.”

When the Ravens and Steelers take on one another, it’s certain to be physical, hard-hitting football, but for many, with the Steelers coming off of a beating at the hands of another AFC North rival in the Bengals, some believe the clock is ticking in Pittsburgh.

“When I look at their team and it’s hard not to look at them historically and think about how good they’ve been in the past,” said NFL on CBS’s James Lofton. “They are just not that dominant team on Sundays. Does that mean they can’t win? Well, we’ve seen that not to be the case around the league. I don’t know if it is a two-game trend, a three-game trend that we like to attach ourselves to, but once it starts to slide in one direction or the other, I think it’s hard to turn it around. So, if you’re winning, it’s hard to go on a losing streak, and if you’re losing it’s hard to get back to winning. I think with the Steelers, it’s just that uncertainty of who the playmakers are defensively and offensively, and can they really put it together for a stretch run?”

Part of the concern for the Steelers is the offensive side of the football.

This season, the team has a largely inexperienced and young offensive line, a brand new weapon at running back, an aging Ben Roethlisberger, and they have only put up more than 20 points once.

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“Once again we get back into history, the Steelers had a dominant line, David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey, those guys are gone,” Lofton said. “Four new offensive linemen this year, a new running back, an aging quarterback, and a wide receiving core who were advertised as being able to carry the team. When they weren’t able to carry the team and the running game faltered a little bit, we’ve seen some cracks in the Steelers offensively and it started with trying to replace the offensive line.”

The Steelers are also in one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL, the AFC North.

Each team is .500 or better on the season, so losing divisional games, or any game, can represent a huge setback in the push for the postseason.

“It’s crazy that it’s December we don’t have a better view of it,” Lofton said. “In September we said, ‘let’s wait until October,’ then October we said, ‘let’s wait until November,’ we figured it would all shake out by the time December rolled around. To me, it’s so weird to figure out how many wins it’ll take to get in. I almost think that 12 is a guaranteed number when you look at how muddled things are right now. In the north, you’re looking at the Steelers and going, ‘well, that bye, is that going to come back to haunt them or help them?’ As I look at it, it just seems like the Browns and the Steelers quarterbacks are just limping toward the finish line. Both guys are a little bit injured, one is just old, and it looks like the Ravens and the Bengals will have the best shot of advancing.”

The Steelers and Ravens will kickoff at 4:25 this Sunday at Heinz Field.

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You can watch the game right here on KDKA.