- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The thinking was maybe the Steelers would go 2-2 without suspended quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. That would leave them in decent position to challenge for a playoff berth, or even the AFC North title.

Forget that. Pittsburgh is 3-0, atop the division and one of just three undefeated teams in the league. The Steelers are 1 1/2-point favorites over Baltimore in the latest matchup of the most physical rivalry in the game.

“The league does not want us to be 4-0 with a mad Ben coming back, I’ll tell you that,” wide receiver Hines Ward said. “We are playing with a lot of confidence as a team _ offensively, defensively, special teams. I know Ben right now is itching to hurry up and get back to be here with us.”

Of course he is. Yet, would he really want any part of the Ravens’ mean defense in his first game back behind center? That unit ranks first against the pass and is a main reason Baltimore is 2-1.

Roethlisberger won’t be the guy for another two weeks _ Pittsburgh has a bye in Week 5. Joe Flacco is the guy for the Ravens, and his connection with wide receiver Anquan Boldin really took flight against Cleveland with three touchdowns. Steelers fill-in Charlie Batch will need to be as effective as he was in last Sunday’s rout of Tampa Bay.

This is a division race that will go down to the final weeks, in part thanks to …


Indianapolis (minus 7) at Jacksonville

Peyton Manning already has thrown for nine TDs and has no interceptions this year. Can he be getting even better?


Washington (plus 6 1/2) at Philadelphia

Welcome back to Philly, Donovan. You can even expect some brotherly love from the former homies _ until kickoff, naturally.

EAGLES, 21-13

Story Continues →