Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Date and Time: Sunday, December 10, 2017, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Heinz Field
Opening NFL Odds: Steelers -6, O/U 44
Ravens vs. Steelers TV Coverage: NBC
The Ravens are no doubt a dangerous team heading into the tail end of the regular season. Since dropping a 23-20 decision at Tennessee back in Week 9, Baltimore has gone on to win three straight games to only trail the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC wild-card standings. On top of that, they came a half-point away from covering all three matchups against the Packers, Texans and Lions. Already with three shutouts in tow, Baltimore’s defense will be ready for the undermanned Steelers attack in the rematch.
Joe Flacco will enter this tilt off his best showing of the season after getting to the Lions defense for 269 yards and a 2:0 TD/INT ratio. His pair of interceptions allowed for the Steelers to run away with the 26-9 win and cover in the first meeting, so it’s safe to say he’ll enter this tilt looking to atone for his sins. He’ll likely need to be on top of his game with Jimmy Smith unavailable for this one due to an Achilles injury/suspension. Pittsburgh’s defense will also be without its team leader, so scoring opportunities should be available.
It certainly hasn’t been pretty for the Steelers over the last month, but the end results have all ended up in wins and that’s all that truly matters. After squeaking one out versus the Packers at the gun in Week 12, Pittsburgh was forced to battle back from a 17-3 deficit in Cincinnati on Monday Night Football to come out with the last second 23-20 win. Unfortunately for Steelers backers, they failed to cover the closing 4.5-point spread.
The loss versus the linemakers was the team’s third in its last four tries with the lone triumph coming in a 40-17 shellacking of Tennessee in another prime time matchup. Ben Roethlisberger had a rough go of it early on, but when the dust cleared, he came just 10 yards short of logging a second straight week of 300 passing yards. His favorite target once again proved to be Antonio Brown who is in line for another solid showing with the leader of the Ravens secondary out the remainder of the season.
Player to Watch
Le’Veon Bell – The Steelers bell cow enters this tilt off one of his finest showings of the season ripping the Bengals for 76 yards on 18 carries on the ground, and reeling in five receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown. The latter output was his best in the receiving game for the season. Bell has thrilled his fantasy owners over the last two weeks, and could be in line for another big showing in Week 14 when you take into account what he did to the Ravens defense in the first meeting. He gouged Baltimore for 144 yards and a pair of touchdowns on a whopping 35 carries. He also added 42 yards on four receptions out of the backfield. If the Big Ben to AB connection flourishes early, Baltimore will be forced to adapt. Once that occurs, some gargantuan running lanes will open for arguably the best running back in the game.
Ravens vs. Steelers Picks
Pittsburgh hasn’t swept its regular season rivalry with the Ravens since the 2008-09 season. Though they disposed of the Ravens in the first go round, I don’t forecast it being as easy this time around. Regardless of the fact that Smith won’t be patrolling the secondary. Pittsburgh has some concerns defensively as well with Ryan Shazier out for the foreseeable future, and James Harrison, Mike Mitchell and Joe Haden already missing a number of games due to various ailments. The suspension of JuJu Smith-Schuster also hurts the Steelers on that side of the ball. With that the case, I’m expecting this second run-in to put more points on the board. I also expect the Ravens to do a better job of limiting Bell this time around. Baltimore is currently receiving better than 66 percent of the betting handle at the top rated sportsbooks dropping the line a full point, and I agree with the stance. Take the points in the Sunday nighter.
NFL ATS Pick: Parlay Ravens +5 / Over 43.5 at BookMaker.eu
NFL Score Prediction: Steelers 27 – Ravens 26