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Steelers favored to win 4th straight

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POSTED November 27, 2013 11:44 p.m.

BARRY WILNER

AP Pro Football Writer

Normally a grudge match for AFC North supremacy, Thanksgiving night’s visit by the Steelers to Baltimore doesn’t carry quite such a lofty air this year.

It still should be one of the more physical and contentious games of the holiday weekend. Or of the entire schedule, for that matter, even though both perennial powers are 5-6 and trail Cincinnati by two games in the division.

The defending Super Bowl champion Ravens (No. 19 in the AP Pro 32) are 3-point favorites over Pittsburgh (No. 18, AP Pro32). But the Steelers have been the hotter team of late, winning three in a row, while Baltimore has taken two of three following a three-game slide.

“Teams evolve,” said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who has won a Super Bowl and led the Steelers to another. “Sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. I’m not going to dredge up the past. That is the past. We had a lot to do with that. I’m more concerned about pressing forward with the men that we’re playing with now and their preparation this week.”

Pittsburgh got off to a horrendous start, dropping its first four games. Now it’s in the wild-card mix, along with Baltimore, which has a difficult schedule down the stretch.

“We understand where we’re at,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who has gotten the team into the playoffs in all five of his previous seasons in charge. “We know what everybody’s record is. But we also know we have to win. None of that matters unless we continue to win. We’ve got to win as many games as we can, and we’ll be hopeful that’s enough to get us in.

“We haven’t given up the division championship yet, either. But we’ve got to win games. We have to win the next one on our schedule.”

Sorry, John.

STEELERS, 17-16

Giants (minus 1)
at Redskins

Surprised that NFL didn’t flex out of this prime-time eyesore? So are we.

BEST BET:
 GIANTS, 31-21

Dolphins (plus 1 1/2)
at Jets

Time to drop one of these teams from playoff talk.

UPSET SPECIAL:
DOLPHINS, 17-10

Saints (plus 6) at Seahawks, Monday night

Now here’s a tasty treat, with major Super Bowl implications. Spread is too big.

SEAHAWKS, 24-20

Packers (plus 6)
at Lions, Thursday

Once a regular Thanksgiving matchup. Plenty of NFC North importance here.

LIONS, 33-30

Raiders (plus 9 1/2) at Cowboys, Thursday

Cowboys feeling very good about themselves. Raiders won’t ruin it.

COWBOYS, 37-17

Broncos (minus 4)
at Chiefs

Excuse us for not being all that excited by the rematch.

BRONCOS, 26-20

Cardinals (plus 3 ½)
at Eagles

Now this one does get the blood flowing with two teams on the rise.

EAGLES, 24-23

Patriots (minus 7 1/2)
at Texans

Look out, Patriots could steal AFC home-field advantage.

PATRIOTS, 27-13

Bengals (plus 1) at Chargers

If Bengals are to be playoff threat, they need to win this type of game.

BENGALS, 23-21

Titans (plus 4 1/2)
at Colts

Stumbling Colts could let Titans back in AFC South race with loss.

COLTS, 19-17

Rams (plus 9 1/2)
 at 49ers

Jeff Fisher’s Rams have no fear of Niners, no matter where they meet.

49ERS, 20-16

Buccaneers (plus 8 1/2) at Panthers

Two streaking teams. Panthers’ win string — and roster — far more impressive.

PANTHERS, 22-10

Hawks (plus 3 1/2) vs. Bills at Toronto

Falcons in running for top overall draft pick.

BILLS, 26-23

Bears (pick-em) at Vikings

Vikings in running for top overall draft pick.

BEARS, 20-15

Jaguars Jacksonville
(plus 7) at Browns

Jaguars in running for top overall draft pick.

Jaguars, 16-13

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