Baltimore Ravens (5-3 SU, 4-3-1 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3 SU, 4-4 ATS)
NFL Week 9
Date and Time: Sunday, November 2, 2014, 8:30 pm EST
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pa.
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Balt. pick/Pitt. pick
Over/Under Total: 48
Bet your Ravens/Steelers pick at an online sportsbook where your credit card WILL work for depositing and where you get a generous 50% signup bonus: Bovada Sportsbook.
The rivalry that some people even outside of their own markets consider the best one going in the National Football League these days will add the second and final chapter to its 2014 series, when the Baltimore Ravens travel to Heinz Field to take on their AFC North nemesis Pittsburgh Steelers in a primetime showdown on Sunday Night Football in America on NBC.
Better still, all four teams in the AFC North are still bunched tight with only a game separating the top from bottom in the standings, so this Ravens-Steelers matchup will have a heightened air of urgency added into the already hate-you atmosphere of the rivalry.
Pittsburgh will be coming into the contest following the record-breaking six touchdown performance of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the Steelers, 51-34, demolishing of the Indianapolis Colts last weekend. The Steelers ran 81 offensive plays and amassed 639 yards in the win over the Colts, incredible numbers that I feel safe in saying the Steelers will absolutely not come close to repeating in the showdown game Sunday night.
Baltimore however had a two-game win streak snapped last week on an Andy Dalton 1-yard plunge as the clock expired, allowing the Bengals to steal away the win and first-place in the division at the same time, 27-24. Prior to the, literally, last-second loss last weekend the Ravens were on fire during the two-game string and quarterback Joe Flacco was one of the hottest QBs in the league. Flacco will need to recapture the hotness in order to improve upon his career 4-6 record versus the Steelers during his career (4-4 SU in regular season).
In years past, oddsmakers and sportsbook managers took the Ravens-Steelers game off, making the home team the standard 3-point favorite just about every game (game has closed between 2.5 to 3.5 in seven of the last nine matchups). But this year the opening point spread had the Steelers as slim 1.5-point favorites, and by midweek the number has dropped as low as a pick em at most sportsbooks in Las Vegas and several on the Web.
The over/under total opened at 44 and has shot up to 47.5 or 48 at most books, which is a surprising climb considering the highest closing total this series has ever seen is 44 (in their earlier meeting in Sept. this season).
The way the Steelers played and Roethlisberger chucked it around last weekend, I fully expect offensive coordinator Todd Haley just crossed out the word Colts on his game-plan chart, wrote Ravens, then walked over to the copier and copied it. When you take into account that the Ravens defense is strong versus the run (allowing 90 ypg 7th), but suspect in the passing game (256 ypg 22nd), Roethlisberger may get 40 attempts in Sunday nights game as well. With Ravens starting CB Jimmy Smith out with a bum foot, the Steelers will have an even thinner secondary to try and crave up in primetime.
After throwing seven TDs over a two week period, last weekend Flacco went a little color blind throwing two picks and only hitting on 50 percent of his passes. If he can fix his sloppiness it will go a long way in helping the Ravens offense get back on track, because unlike previous seasons where Flacco fed off the running game and play action, this season the Ravens have shown a tendency to rely on Flacco first to open up the run game in a visa-versa scheme switch. Pittsburghs defense played better than the 34 points the Colts hung on them looks like on paper, but its no secret the Steel Curtain just isnt what it used to be will the injuries and turnover the past few seasons.
The over may have climbed the three to four points quickly on the board in part because historically, these teams tend to have shootouts on the Heinz Field turf, with the over going 10-4-1 in the last 15 games in Pittsburgh. Baltimore also has had its recent struggles in this series, going 1-3-1 ATS in the last five games against the Steelers.
Predictems Pick to Cover the Point Spread:
Maybe its just me, but Im not confident of the Ravens’ ability to win against even a mediocre team on the road. Sure theyre 2-2 as a visitor on the season; however a last second win over the Browns in a game that they were outplayed and beating the feeble Bucs doesnt impress me. Now thats not saying that Im drinking the Steelers Kool-Aid after their victory over the Colts, Im not. It just doesnt make feel all warm inside backing the boys from Baltimore. Take the Ravens at pickem!