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Old 10-02-2010, 12:57 AM   #1
A Son of Martha

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Default Two big battles in Pennsylvania among Week 4's top storylines

Two big battles in Pennsylvania among Week 4's top storylines
John P. Lopez


There's no doubt the center of the NFL's universe for Week 4 will be in Pennsylvania. That's where quarterbacks past, present -- and future, in the Steelers' case -- will be stealing headlines. But storylines across the league could not be more enticing as the meat of the NFL season approaches, with at least one coach already fighting for his job, controversial wide receivers butting heads, and contenders and pretenders beginning to separate.

But among the Top 10 storylines, we must begin in Pittsburgh. Perhaps the only thing more surprising than Michael Vick's return to greatness in Philadelphia is the Steelers remaining great without suspended quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

The Steelers are but one win away from going a stunning 4-0 without Roethlisberger, who was suspended by the league for violating its personal conduct policy. But it's going to be a tough one to win against a Ravens team that plays superb defense and has potential game-breakers offensively.

Adding intrigue: The Ravens are not without their own issues. Such as:

Without a heaping helping of Rice, as in Ray Rice, should we expect Joe Flacco to be served on a platter to a dominant Steelers D? Rice went down with a deep knee bruise that coach John Harbaugh called, "significant." He likely will see action, but it bears watching whether he stands a chance of being the same back that gashed the Steelers for 5.6 yards per-touch last season

Joe Flacco has not been Joe Flacco. He's turned the ball over, seen his accuracy waver and has yet to make the most of an enhanced receiving corps that now includes an effective Anquan Boldin.

Charlie Batch is no Roethlisberger, but he did throw three TDs last week, and the Ravens -- despite a dominant defense -- are scrambling to find answers in the secondary. Already this week, the Ravens released Trevor Pryce and signed Ken Hamlin in hopes of getting some kind of better effort, with safety Ed Reed out for a few more weeks.

They can't win in Pittsburgh. Home field often is overblown in the NFL, when professionals take the field. But at Heinz Field, the Steelers have dominated the Ravens.

As for the Steelers, they may be playing with house money heading into Week 4, but they can ill-afford to lose to a division opponent. And at some point, you have to wonder if Flacco will rise and Pittsburgh's quarterbacking luck will falter.

Elsewhere, the storylines remain equally as intriguing

(Rest of the article is not about the Steelers. - mesa)
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