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NFL Capsule: Steelers at Ravens

NFL Capsule: Steelers at Ravens

PITTSBURGH (6-5) At BALTIMORE (9-2)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m., CBS

OPENING LINE - OFF

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Pittsburgh 5-6; Baltimore 5-6

SERIES RECORD - Steelers lead 18-15

AP PRO32 RANKING - Steelers No. 14, Ravens No. 6

LAST MEETING - Ravens beat Steelers 13-10, Nov. 18

LAST WEEK - Steelers lost to Browns 20-14, Ravens beat Chargers 16-13 OT

STEELERS OFFENSE - OVERALL (19T), RUSH (22), PASS (13)

STEELERS DEFENSE - OVERALL (1), RUSH (5), PASS (1)

RAVENS OFFENSE - OVERALL (16), RUSH (12), PASS (11)

RAVENS DEFENSE - OVERALL (24), RUSH (26), PASS (23)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES - Second meeting of AFC North rivals in span of three weeks. Ravens won first encounter 13-10. ... Six of last seven regular-season games between teams have been decided by three points. ... Ravens seeking second straight season sweep of Steelers. Baltimore has won five of seven. ... Baltimore has won 15 straight at home since Pittsburgh's 13-10 victory on Dec. 5, 2010. ... Steelers uncertain whether Ben Roethlisberger or Charlie Batch will start at QB. Batch 5-3 as starter with Pittsburgh, 24-30 overall. ... Pittsburgh's league-leading defense allowing 257.2 yards per game. ... Steelers LB James Harrison (61 sacks) passed Joey Porter for second-most sacks in team history behind Jason Gildon (77). ... Pittsburgh had season-high four sacks last week vs. Browns and forced 10 punts. ... Steelers S Troy Polamalu expected to return from right calf injury after missing nine of first 11 games. ... Ravens can clinch playoff berth with win, and can clinch second straight AFC North title with win and Cincinnati loss in San Diego. ... Baltimore has won four straight and eight of nine. ... Ravens' only touchdown against Steelers two weeks ago was on punt return by Jacoby Jones. ... Baltimore has allowed only nine passing TDs, lowest in league. ... Ravens have won 12 in row against AFC North foes, longest current divisional run in NFL. ... Baltimore RB Ray Rice has only two touchdowns and 471 yards rushing in eight games against Steelers. ... Baltimore 9-1 when WR Torrey Smith scores touchdown. He has seven TDs this year, tying output as a rookie. ... Ravens WR Anquan Boldin needs 87 yards receiving to reach 10,000 for career. ... Ravens LB Paul Kruger has four sacks in last three games.

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Ravens safety Eric Weddle was nearly a Patriot this season

Ravens safety Eric Weddle was nearly a Patriot this season

When Eric Weddle was released by the San Diego Chargers after last season he had plenty of offers to sign with other NFL teams.

One of those teams was the New England Patriots, the team Weddle will play against on Monday Night Football this week. 

When the two-time All-Pro safety hit the open market, he said he was looking to play for a winning organization. He ended up choosing the Ravens over the Patriots because there was a more clear-cut opportunity for playing time. 

“I’m good buddies with Patrick Chung,” he said. “I grew up playing with him and Devin McCourty is one of the best to play, so I don’t know if it would have worked out personnel-wise. But obviously, I could have seen myself fitting in there seamlessly.”

Although the Ravens don't have quite as many wins as the Patriots this season, Weddle clearly made a good choice. The Ravens are tied for first place in the AFC North with the Steelers and Weddle is currently the highest graded safety in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. 

The Ravens defense is playing dominant football as a whole as well. Through week 13 Baltimore ranks first in the NFL in total defense surrenduring just 296.1 yards per game. 

RELATED: Weddle consumes a gallon of ice cream after Ravens wins

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Injured guard Lewis makes surprise return to practice

Injured guard Lewis makes surprise return to practice

Ravens offensive guard Alex Lewis returned to practice on Friday, almost a month to the day after he suffered a right ankle injury against the Cleveland Browns.

Lewis’ recovery is ahead of schedule, considering coach John Harbaugh initially estimated the high ankle sprain to be a six-week injury. Even as recently as Monday, Harbaugh said Lewis was “a good ways away” from returning.

“He’s done a great job” on his rehabilitation, Harbaugh said after Friday’s workout, adding that Lewis has been at it “practically 24/7. …  To see him back out there today is a real plus. Credit to him.”

Lewis was carted off the field when the injury occurred, leading some to speculate his promising rookie season could be over.

“We’ve been in there working, trying to get treatment, trying to back out there as quick as I can,” Lewis said on Friday. “I want to be part of the fun. I want to get out there and win some games with the fellas.”

Lewis is unlikely to suit up Monday night at New England, and his role after that remains unclear; Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda has taken Lewis’ spot at left guard, in large part because it allows Yanda to play through an injured shoulder.

Lewis was the Ravens starting left guard when the season began, and then started three games at left tackle while Ronnie Stanley was injured. The Ravens went through a stretch where they started a different offensive line in eight straight games, but have now found some consistency with an offensive line group that has not included Lewis.

Yanda is likely to stay at left guard, and veteran Vladimir Ducasse has filled Yanda’s spot at right guard.

Presumably Lewis would be an option to play on the right side, although he said he not played right guard since high school.

“If that’s my calling card, then I’ll do it,” he said.

Harbaugh said given the injuries the Ravens have had up front this year, having a surplus of healthy linemen would be a nice problem to have.

“(Lewis) being added to the mix is going to be a plus,” he said. “We’ll just have to see how it goes as we go forward.”

RELATED: Former Patriot: Joe Flacco 'not a guy that strikes fear in your heart'