- For all the marbles: Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens will be filled with many storylines, but the biggest one is the opportunity for the Steelers to win the AFC North in front of the Heinz Field crowd. Coach Mike Tomlin knows it's going to be a big week, and enjoys the preparation for it as much as the game itself.
"We are excited about this opportunity," said Tomlin. "When you really think about it, it's going to be an exciting game for us, an exciting game for them. It's going to be an exciting game for the fans. You could say that both teams have been fighting and clawing for some period of time to get to this point, to this game, in this stadium, with this amount of significance or what is at stake. From a competitor's standpoint it's an awesome thing. It is a snapshot of December football.
"I am excited about going through the process of preparing the guys for the opportunity. Often times when we are faced with an opportunity or a big game like this, we talk about the game itself. For those of us in the profession, these are fun weeks from a preparation standpoint."
- Happy Holidays: The Steelers will play on their second of three holidays this week when they host the Ravens on Christmas at Heinz Field. The Steelers played at Indianapolis on Thanksgiving, and host Cleveland on New Year's Day. Tomlin said he welcomes playing on the holidays and considers it an honor.
"As somebody that is an absolute football lover, I view it as a complete honor to have an opportunity to perform for our fans, for the nation, on days that we are getting the opportunity to perform," said Tomlin. "I don't take it lightly. I am humbled and honored by it, to be a part of what is tradition and memories for families. Whether it's Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year's (Day), I am excited."
Less is more: Rookie Sean Davis continues to impress, and along with Artie Burns is listed as a starter on the Steelers' depth chart for the first time this season. Davis' success can partially be linked to a reduction in snaps earlier in the season, as well as the normal maturation process a rookie goes through.
"We are getting more detail, we are getting more production," said Tomlin. "It could be that reduction. It could be just a growth and understanding in him getting reps and going through the process of preparing and playing. It's funny to watch young guys not only improve in play, but improve in the process of preparation. I had a funny interaction with him a week ago. He came to my office and asked how do you prepare for somebody the second time in a season? He had never played someone twice in a season before. That is what's going on not just with him, but all these young people. In the process that is preparation, they are finding their rhythm, they're finding what works for them. I think when they do that and as they continue to do that, it is reason to expect a more consistent floor in their performance and a higher ceiling in their performance. We are increasingly getting that from him."