Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS)
NFL Week 2
Date and Time: Thursday, September 11, 8:25pm EST
Where: M&T Bank Stadium - Baltimore, MD
TV: NFL Network
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: PIT +2.5/BAL -2.5
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This Thursday night in Baltimore, Maryland, the NFL will kick off week two of the 2014 season. The 1-0 Steelers will visit the 0-1 Ravens in an AFC North showdown that could alter the landscape of that division early on. The Steelers are coming off a last second win over the Browns while the Ravens lost a close one to the Bengals. The line opens up with the Baltimore Ravens as a 2.5 point favorite and the total points are set at 44.5 for this one. Both of these teams feel that they can win this division, but if not, they both also believe a wild card playoff berth is in the cards for them. Over the last 5-7 seasons, this Pittsburgh/Baltimore rivalry has become one of the most notable in all of the NFL. The last five contests between these two teams has come down to a 3 point game or less. I see a very similar ending to this one but the only question is: Who will come out of top? I can see either of these teams pulling off the win.
The Baltimore Ravens finished just 8-8 last season, and they firmly believe they can and should be a Super Bowl contender again this year. Remember, it was less than 2 years ago that they hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in New Orleans after beating the 49ers. This past week, the Ravens suffered a loss to their division foe, the Cincinnati Bengals. It was a back and forth game that saw the Bengals come away with the 23-16 victory. My pick to win the AFC North is the Bengals, but I do see Pittsburgh and Baltimore making things interesting. The Ravens did show improvement from the 2013 season. Joe Flacco threw for over 345 yards and a touchdown, but the run game could use a little work. Since that game, the Ravens as an organization has been through a major change. After the release of the Ray Rice elevator video, they made the decision to part ways and released Rice from the team. Not only will this effect the Ravens rushing attack all season, it will have effects on the team itself off the field. As of now, the leading rusher for the Ravens is Justin Forsett who was able to pick up 70 yards rushing on just 11 carries. It appears that the potential of a run game is there, but Baltimore decided they were better fit to pass the ball 62 times....thats right...62 times. In order to beat this Pittsburgh team, Baltimore is going to need to be a tad more balanced. I would like to see them pass the ball about 30-40 times, and run the ball about 25-30. To me, that would keep the Steelers on their heels and could open up the possibility of some more explosive plays.
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The first half of the Steelers and Browns game had me thinking that Pittsburgh was for real. Even though it was just the Browns, Pittsburgh came in and pushed them around in every aspect of the game. At halftime, the Steelers were up 27-3 and it seemed like they were primed to run away with the game. Well, in the 2nd half, the teams changed roles and the Cleveland Browns decided to make it a game. Cleveland was able to tie the game in the 4th quarter, and they actually had opportunities to even take the lead. Pittsburgh ended up winning on a last second field goal, 30-27. I was not impressed with this win. Yes, it is the NFL and things happen, but the way the Steelers allowed the Browns to nearly win this game, IN PITTSBURGH, makes me think that this team is not ready for the big time. In order to go into Baltimore and grab a win, the Steelers will need to improve their rushing defense. They allowed 183 yards on the ground to the Browns...if this does not improve, the Ravens will do what I think they should do and run it down Pittsburgh's throat. From an offensive standpoint, the Steelers should be ok. Big Ben passed for over 360 yards on the Browns, and the Steelers as a team was able to run for nearly 130 yards. Now, the Baltimore defense is better than Cleveland's, but I do like the Steelers to get some yards and score some points.
Bob's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This game is tough to call. The Ravens are favored at home by 2.5 and I firmly believe a late field goal will decide the outcome. We do not have much to base this game off of. I hate looking at just one week of football and thinking I know how a team will perform all season, but that's all we got right now. The eye test tells me that Baltimore will win this game by about 3-7 points, but I do not make my picks on the eye test...well most times I don't. 61% of the money is being laid on the Steelers...I find this odd but i am glad. My gut tells me that Baltimore wins this game 23-20 on a late field goal and that is exactly what I am going with. PICK BALTIMORE -2.5 and UNDER THE 44.5 TOTAL POINTS!!!
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