Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS)
NFL Week 4
Date/Time: Sunday, October 1, 2017 at 1PM EST
Where: MT&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: PIT -2.5/BAL +2.5
Over/Under Total: 44
In AFC North action from MT&T Bank Stadium, the Pittsburgh Steelers come to face the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. The Ravens not only have to shake off a tough road trip to London last week, but also a puzzling 44-7 loss to the Jaguars that equaled their worst-ever loss as a franchise. What made it so strange was how good the Ravens looked in weeks 1-2, allowing a combined ten points. This game should offer a hint as to whether we should take that result to heart or if it was just one of those things. But they will be facing a Steelers team that should be good and irritated after falling so flat in week three. Things just didnt fire, as they were beaten in overtime by the Chicago Bears, 23-17.
Maybe the Ravens benefitted from facing the Browns and the Bengals in the first two weeks of the season because whatever menace they had been showing vanished at Wembley Stadium. They looked completely out of it, drifting through a game that was the most-puzzling of the early NFL season, with the Ravens missing the point spread by nearly six touchdowns. They have an obvious out with the game being across the Atlantic, but Jacksonville was facing the same conditions and they just completely throttled the Ravens in week three. If one is inclined to throw the result out, as they say, thats defensible on certain levels. But at the very least, we saw they are not immune to big letdowns from time to time.
The least said about the Baltimore offense in week three, the better. Flacco didnt complete a pass until deep into the second quarter and he threw for an anemic 28 yards on Sunday with two interceptions. Flaccos ball-catchers barely had more yardage off of his passes than Jacksonvilles cornerbacks. Terrance West lost a fumble, though they did have some good runs from Alex Collins, mostly after the game was decided. It took until the third quarter for the Ravens to cross midfield. Sure, its London. Still, it was as bad a performance as the Ravens ever had.
The Ravens defensive collapse on Sunday was even more-baffling. To go from a dominant unit in the first two weeks and allow a total of ten points to facilitating a franchise record-tying margin for losses is a pretty wide change in form. They still have some good pieces in place. The secondary was not on-point on Sunday, but its a deep unit with Eric Weddle, Ladarius Webb, Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, and first-year Ravens safety Tony Jefferson. Linebacker CJ Mosley is a force in the middle and Terrell Suggs has shown some of his old fire coming back from injury. It might be hard to say good things about this group after making the Jacksonville offense look like an elite unit. But dont expect what we saw last Sunday to manifest every week. They showed enough menace in weeks one and two, albeit against Cincy and Cleveland, to warrant some respect.
The Steelers sure havent hit the ground running this season, despite being 2-1. They are still working some things out on offense, while their defense has actually been the best part of the team. The alarming aspect of it is an offense that seems to underachieve a lot and not just this season, but in many games over the past several seasons. The Bears ran the ball way too easily against them on Sunday. And the offense couldnt come up with the right answers against a winless Bears team. They look to be closer to their peak form moving forward.
Its time for Pittsburgh to start putting together the kind of play on offense that is consistent with the tools they possess. They have the most versatile running back in the league with LeVeon Bell and by game four; one would expect him to start showing it. One of the best receivers in the business is Antonio Brown and while he gets a lot of personal distinction, youd think that would open things up more for Martavis Bryant, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Eli Rogers, and their other targets. There are games where the complimentary pieces for Pittsburgh are getting close to nothing and for that, there is no excuse. To score 57 points on offense in three games against the Browns, Vikings, and Bears is a huge letdown. But this could be the week where we see them put things together. Its due to happen at some point, right?
The Pittsburgh defense has actually been pretty solid. The 17 points they gave up to Chicago in regulation would normally be good enough for a Pittsburgh team to win. The run-defense wasnt very good in week 3, though it had been solid in weeks one and two. All told, theyve given up 50 points in three games. Getting Stephon Tuitt and TJ Watt back, which should happen shortly, will help. Its still good to know theres a defense here that can keep the Steelers in the game when the offense isnt clicking. They gave up too many big runs on Sunday, but they held QB Mike Glennon to almost nothing and the middle thrived with Bud Dupree and Ryan Shazier, while safety JJ Wilcox picked off a Glennon pass.
Its hard to not harp on how the Ravens are coming back from a horrible beating in London and how there could be some residual affects from that. At the same time, losing in overtime at Soldier Field isnt exactly a day at the spa, either. The range for possible outcomes in this week four matchup is pretty wide, as both teams have shown they can be pretty erratic. At the end of the day, I see the Steelers offense having better results this week en route to the cover.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Pittsburgh Steelers minus 2.5 points. Bet this game and all of your wagers at a sportsbook that lets you bet at discounted odds (-105 instead of -110), thatoffers live in game betting and that has the biggest variety of wagers (including high school football betting). Oh, and they offer FAST no hassle payouts as well! —> 5Dimes!