Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5 SU, 4-6-1 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (9-2 SU, 5-5-1 ATS)
NFL Week 13
Date/Time: Sunday, December 2nd, 2012, 4:25 p.m. EST
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md.
TV: CBS/DirecTV 714
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Pit OFF/Balt OFF
Over/Under Total: OFF
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For the second time in the past two weeks what should be one of the best games in the NFL, a classic Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens AFC North grudge match, has been hijacked by injuries to the Steelers quarterback position making Sunday’s game at M&T Bank Stadium an afterthought.
The ship that is Pittsburgh is taking on water and sinking fast, as they have now lost two straight games to drop back into the AFC playoff chase pack following last week’s loss on the road in Cleveland, 20-14. The Steelers were forced to start third-string QB Charlie Batch, and even though Batch showed some serious rust (3 INT’s), a whole-team effort of offensive futility (246 total yards, eight fumbles (5 lost)) cost them the game and could wind up costing several players their starting jobs.
The Steelers defense is still playing like the top-notch unit they’ve always been, including four sacks, only 238 yards allowed and a pick-six for the game’s opening score against Cleveland, but it’s clear that if something doesn’t happen quick on offense the Steelers just won’t last with crucial games against the Ravens, Chargers, Cowboys and Bengals still remaining on their schedule.
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Baltimore is coming off of one of the most emotional victories of the season, and probably one of the biggest in franchise history, when they converted a 4th-and-29 to set up a game-tying field goal and then eventually steal a, 16-13, overtime win on the road in San Diego last Sunday.
With a three game lead in the AFC North, the Ravens can clinch a playoff spot with a win over the short-handed Steelers, and the division title for the second straight season if Cincinnati loses on the road at San Diego this week. Clinching a spot at home against the hated Steelers well, I’m sure the Ravens couldn’t have asked for a better scenario that that for this season.
Even though word has filtered out of Pittsburgh already this week that Ben Roethlisberger has less than a 50 percent chance at playing, oddsmakers are still sitting on their hands and haven’t released a point spread or total for this game yet.
Two weeks ago when the Steelers were forced to start Byron Leftwich against the Ravens they still hung around long enough and made it a tight game, but with the Steelers strong defense they will almost always be in every game. Plus, the Steelers-Ravens series almost always comes down to the last series anyway, but with Batch likely to start it’s really hard to see the Steelers offense scoring enough points to win the game outright on the road in Baltimore.
If you’re still having thoughts about betting on this game with so many unknowns, maybe a few historical betting trends will give you your best option. The underdog is 7-3-2 ATS going back the last 12 head-to-head meetings. The over is 9-4-1 ATS in the last 14 meetings.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: There is no line at time of print. I’ll revisit this later in the week and make a pick then should the line come out.
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