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What a way to start

September 11, 2011 - Buck Frank
45 minutes until kickoff: The Steelers and Ravens are accustomed to playing in Baltimore in prime time late in the season. It seems kind of odd that the two teams will be squaring off in less than one hour. Meeting in the opener might just lower the intensity level in this fierce rivalry. The teams both know they have a long season ahead of them, and some new starters -- namely the Ravens cornerbacks -- are just going to be focused on handling their assignments. Also, the teams are both 0-0, so it's not like in the past when they'd be 10-3 or 9-4 facing off with the division title on the line. The less intensity and the lockout factor may create a higher scoring game than in years past. I'm predicting a Steelers win, possibly 31-24.

35 minutes until kickoff: The Steelers and Ravens are similar in many ways. They both have questions on the offensive line and at cornerback. They each have one of the best safeties in the game, and they both have aging defenses with an elder statesman leading the way at inside linebacker. They both have younger coaches, good young running backs and dynamic receivers. The big difference is at quarterback. The Steelers enjoy a big edge with Ben Roethlisberger over Joe Flacco. That could be the difference again today as it has in every Roethlisberger-Flacco matchup.

10 minutes until kickoff: Fans in M&T Bank Stadium stood and sang along to a patriotic song and then chanted U-S-A, U-S-A as military people walked off the field. A few seconds later, they were booing Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. Not many Terrible Towels in the stands here.

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