Normally, a letdown may be in order for the Steelers after overwhelming one of the NFL's elite teams.
That is, unless their next opponent happens to be a Baltimore club which took Mike Tomlin's Black & Gold behind the woodshed in week one.
That 35-7 season-opening beatdown included an alarming seven-turnover performance by Big Ben and a then-suspect Steelers' offense.
Nine weekends later, a welcome return to normal appears in order. Pittsburgh enters Sunday night's nationally televised showcase having won four straight and six of its last seven.
While a Ravens' win restores AFC North stability for John Harbaugh's dirty birds, a Pittsburgh nod firmly establishes the Steelers as AFC Conference frontrunners...at least for now.
The Browns would likely have settled for split out of their two-game road trip to San Francisco and Houston, respectively. That doesn't look promising following last weekend's loss to the Niners.
Cincinnati, meanwhile, continues to amaze at 5-2. How well the Bengals fare Sunday (at Tennessee) and one week later when Pittsburgh invades may determine their quest to remain playoff contenders.
Last week, this column sputtered to an 8-5 record, salvaging an Upset Special victory when Kansas City outlasted the Chargers in overtime.
Bye weeks: Carolina, Detroit, Jacksonville, Minnesota.
SAN FRANCISCIO AT WASHINGTON. Count me among the few who believe Frisco is doing it with mirrors as they've opened a sizable lead in the NFC West. Coming off a shutout loss last Sunday, Washington rebounds at home and scores our Upset Special! Redskins, 21-17.
NEW YORK JETS AT BUFFALO. Big-time matchup in a three-team AFC East race. At 5-2, Bills one of the league's feel-good stories. But not this week, Jets, 30-24.
ATLANTA AT INDIANAPOLIS. Who wants to be first to lose to winless Colts? Obviously, not Atlanta, fighting two division rivals in the NFC South. Falcons, 24-17.
TAMPA BAY AT NEW ORLEANS. Speaking of AFC South, here's a battle for first place. Bucs coming off open date while NO suffered stunning loss at St. Louis. Saints, 35-20.
CLEVELAND AT HOUSTON. If Brownies could find a way deep in the heart, they return home for consecutive outings vs. Jaguars and Rams. It's the thought, of course, that counts. Texans, 31-16.
SEATTLE AT DALLAS. This one could be blacked out on the NFL network, and who would miss it? Cowboys, 28-17.
MIAMI AT KANSAS CITY. Remember how bad KC was in September? They could be AFC West leaders by Sunday night. Chiefs, 20-17.
CINCINNATI AT TENNESSEE. Put nothing past Bengals, though schedule has been favorable. Tennessee looking to keep pace in AFC South. Titans, 28-14.
DENVER AT OAKLAND. Raiders probably needed their bye week to regroup. Broncs could have also used one, coming off mile high meltdown against Detroit. Raiders, 23-16.
NEW YORK GIANTS AT NEW ENGLAND. Not a particularly good weekend for G-men to be visiting Foxboro. Brady returns with a vengeance. Patriots, 37-24.
ST. LOUIS AT ARIZONA. Plenty of good seats available in this desert battle of 1-6 combines. Go with the home folks. Cardinals, 33-17.
GREEN BAY AT SAN DIEGO. We seriously doubt unbeaten Pack ends up running the table. We also doubt Norv Turner will be first to prove it. Packers, 31-24.
BALTIMORE AT PITTSBURGH. One of NFL's most spirited rivalries at the confluence where Big Ben and company may find the going much tougher than expected in this AFC North rematch. Steelers, 20-14.
CHICAGO AT PHILADELPHIA. In the grand scheme, a key NFC matchup involving two teams jockeying for playoff positioning. Still, feel free to go Dancing With the Stars. Bears, 27-20
LAST WEEK: 8-5. SEASON: 71-45. UPSET SPECIALS: 2-6.
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