'Hot Kitchen' AFC North Game a Cakewalk for Steelers - If It's Played

This is not your typical Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens matchup.
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PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers aren't worried about when their game against the Baltimore Ravens is being played - because they don't have to. 

All season, the motto has been staying "light on our feet." The Steelers prepare for every game as if it'll go perfect, but keep the mindset that everything and anything can go askew at any time. 

So far this season, everything and anything has gone wrong at any time. But only for the other teams. 

"We don't need cautionary tales," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said on their current situation with the Ravens. "We live in this every day. We've been living it every day."

Tomlin said his team has followed every protocol, and some, since July. In fact, they've done more, and through 12 weeks of the NFL season, they've only had two players and three staff members test positive. None of which required adjustments to the NFL's schedule. 

"We've asked them to go above and beyond from Day 1, just in anticipation of such an environment," Tomlin said. "To their credit, they are working hard to give us what we want, and we are appreciative."

But here they are. For a second time this season, the Steelers are moving their schedule around for a team dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. The first time, it gave them an impromptu bye week in Week 4. This time, it's pushed their Thanksgiving primetime game to a Tuesday. 

"This group was leaning in on a short week, having an opportunity to be a part of a Thanksgiving primetime game," Tomlin explained about his team's focus. "Everybody grew up on football on Thanksgiving. They were excited about being a part of that. I think it's a natural response to be disappointed to lose that opportunity, but that's over. We are getting focused on Tuesday night."

The Steelers are preparing for schematics against a Ravens team who is coming in "short-handed." 

As of right now, Baltimore will be without 10 starters and 20 players. They'll also have 10 staff members that will be ineligible because of COVID-19. 

The Steelers will play a team without a starting quarterback, two primary running backs, a starting wide receiver, fullback, tight end, four offensive linemen, five defensive linemen, three outside linebacker and a special teams ace. 

This is all if the Ravens don't have another positive test for the ninth day in a row. 

As of now, the Steelers are 9.5 point favorites over the Ravens. Those who stuck around with their defense in fantasy football are thrilled. And even if the Steelers aren't talking about, it's as easy of a "hot kitchen" AFC North battle as they'll ever have - and they play the Bengals twice a year. 

There's no guaranteeing this game happens. The NFL is utilizing Week 18 as an absolute last case scenario but haven't really said what it's going to take to get them there. 

Right now, the Ravens have had positive tests for eight-straight days. They're without nine starters on offense and have discovered that all this most-likely came from a strength and conditioning coach who didn't report symptoms while the team was violating mask protocols. 

The Denver Broncos played a game without a quarterback, and as crazy as that sounded, it didn't bring any health risks to the field outside of putting someone in position to play quarterback when they shouldn't have been. 

The Ravens have a serious health concern. The continued presence of positive COVID-19 tests means this outbreak isn't over. As of now, it's Monday, and if more new tests keep coming, it's pretty hard to say this isn't putting the Steelers at risk to play a game Tuesday night. 

Stay light on your feet with preparing to watch the Steelers-Ravens game. If it happens, it's a game that won't help the legitimacy of the Steelers' undefeated record. If it doesn't, it's another example that the NFL doesn't control this virus - the virus controls the NFL. 

DEVELOPING: The NFL postponed the Ravens' Monday walkthrough because of Willie Snead's positive COVIFD-19 test. The Ravens could still potentially host a walkthrough this afternoon, but as of now, they're scheduled to fly to Pittsburgh this afternoon. 

Noah Strackbein is a Publisher with AllSteelers. Follow Noah on Twitter @NoahStrack, and AllSteelers @si_steelers.