Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5 SU, 8-5 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens(4-10 SU, 3-9 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date/Time: 12/27/15 1:00 PM ET
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
by Keith, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: PIT -10/BAL +10
Over/Under Total: 47.5
For the second straight week, we will target Pittsburgh again despite an impressive rally against Denver at home, last week. The Steelers pulled a rabbit out of their hat and Antonio Brown as the catalyst for the Steelers remarkable comeback. What was even more impressive about the feat, was the fact that Pittsburgh pulled this off against the leagues best statistical defense. However, given Pittsburghs three game winning streak, their stock is soaring and ascending rapidly, as they also show a three consecutive wins against teams atop their respective divisions at the current time. This narrative can make Pittsburgh and any backers susceptible to a potential overlay.
Down the backstretch, the Steelers schedule gets easier on paper. An away game against these depleted Baltimore Ravens and a season finale against the much maligned Cleveland Browns. Pittsburgh also knows if it wins out, it will secure a playoff berth and with all the weapons and firepower featured on that dynamic Steelers passing attack, it is without question that this squad will be feared by any team that dare encounter them in the post-season.
However, the Steelers first have to get there. Most notably one of Pittsburghs five defeats on the year came against this Ravens team at home in September, where Baltimore required overtime to dispatch the Black and Yellow. Conversely, this win could be the lynch pin on Baltimores season to date and they currently hold a two-game winning streak in this series. In light of this, the books have been very generous despite the game being played in Baltimore and the Ravens dominance of this potent rivalry series. In addition, the Ravens have won 4 of the last 5 against the Steelers and they would love nothing more than to put a dent in their playoff hopes with the Jets lurking on the tail of Pittsburgh.
There has never been a better time to take Baltimore, Pittsburghs defense against the pass ranks among the worst in the NFL even with their impressive record. Conversely, even with a season-ending injury to quarterback Joe Flacco, Baltimore showcases the eight ranked passing attack in the league and this is extraordinarily good news against a Pittsburgh team that is entering with a lot of notoriety and consensus behind them. Many will likely count the Ravens out of this match, but we feel otherwise and suspect they will treat this game as their Super Bowl.
With Kamar Aiken emerging as a deadly deep threat, Baltimore will be able to find success against a porous Pittsburgh secondary that allows 279 passing yards per game. We also have seen the revelation of Buck Allen, who has filled the shoes of injured running back Justin Forsett wonderfully. Allen can catch the ball out of the backfield and make things happen and this is just another component that makes Baltimore all the more appealing. If that is not sufficient, the match-up in itself is worth playing on with the amount of points spotted to the Ravens at home. Furthermore, home dogs are often a premium play, as they have a tendency to be live more than they are dull. For Baltimore, the spot sets up for the Ravens to fulfill that prophecy.
We saw a similar scenario unfold when the Giants hosted the Panthers last week. The point spread was far different, there was more vested faith in the G-Men by the books but the public reacted quickly and hopped on Carolina. The rest was history, the Giants would piece together a 28-point rally to tie the game late in the 4th quarter before the Panthers would slip away 38-35. The book plays on psychological perception and the Ravens are perceived as an awful football club. As terrible as their season may have been, they may enter this contest with a heightened sense of motivation and purpose. Seldom do we advocate backing a heavy dog in a rivalry game as potent as the Steelers-Ravens. Historically, this rivalry series has been known for robust defensive struggles and hard-fought contests often settled in the latter stages of the affair. Baltimore has nothing to lose and Pittsburgh has plenty to lose. We like this scenario and we like an abundance of points to support this wager. For these reasons we will have to take the Ravens at home as a true potential live dog.
Keith’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Baltimore Ravens +10
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