A look at the AFC divisional playoff matchups might require a double take.
Ravens at Steelers? Jets at Patriots? Haven't we read this script already?
New York's 17-16 win at Indianapolis and Baltimore's 30-7 smackdown of Kansas City ensure the second round of the AFC playoffs will be fueled by old rivalries and bad blood. Ravens-Steelers and Jets-Patriots are the two best intradivision feuds in the AFC, and if the regular-season warmup acts are any indication, this weekend only will add another log to the fire.
The Ravens and Steelers have met twice in the playoffs. Both were in Pittsburgh (a 27-10 Steelers win in the 2001 divisional round and a 23-14 Steelers win in the 2008 AFC title game). They've played 30 total times, with the Steelers holding an 18-12 edge. But since John Harbaugh was hired, a tightly contested head-to-head rivalry has gotten airtight. All six regular-season meetings since the beginning of the 2008 season have been decided by one score, with Pittsburgh outscoring Baltimore 103-96 in those games. The bad news for the Ravens? They've only won two of their last 11 in Steel City. The silver lining? One of those games was this season, a 17-14 win in October.
Things aren't exactly as tight on the other side of the AFC bracket, with the Patriots winning 13 of the last 17 head-to-head meetings with the Jets -- including a 37-16 win in the 2006 playoffs. But New York, like Baltimore, has closed the gap recently, splitting its four games with New England since Rex Ryan was hired. Of course, the Jets also were embarrassed the last time they faced the Patriots -- a 45-3 drubbing at Gillette Stadium that launched New England's run to the AFC's top seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Are the Jets still shell-shocked over that loss? It's worth noting that in just two years, Ryan's three playoff wins -- all on the road -- are the most in franchise history.