Bet 1.4 Units on Ravens ATS vs. Steelers for Week 9 NFL Picks

Jason Lake

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 1:05 PM GMT

Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014 1:05 PM GMT

The NFL odds are dancing on a knife edge for Sunday night’s big game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Some books have it as a pick ‘em, others have Pittsburgh favored slightly at home.

Jason’s Record After Week 8: 24-33 ATS, 9-12-1 Totals

Profit: minus-29.93 units


One of these 5-3 teams is not like the other. The Baltimore Ravens (4-3-1 ATS) have given up 131 points, fewer than anyone else in the AFC – even the teams that have only played seven games so far. The Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4 ATS) have given up 196 points, 65 more points than Baltimore and more than all but three teams in their conference. The Ravens have outscored Pittsburgh 217-205, as well. And yet here they are tied for second place in the AFC South.

Seems fair enough that the Steelers are only considered very slight favorites at home for Sunday Night Football (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC). Pittsburgh opened as a 1.5-point home dog at the earliest books on our NFL odds board, but then the Steelers beat the Indianapolis Colts (–5 away) 51-34 in a late afternoon start, and pretty soon it was Pittsburgh PK at most locations, with some moving all the way to Pittsburgh –1.5 at positive juice.


Kneel Before Todd
Nothing much has changed on the consensus front since we reported on the opening odds. Baltimore is still pulling in about 51 percent support as we go to press; our fresh expanded consensus reports also show the Ravens carrying just over 52 percent of the monies wagered, with an average bet size of $32 to Pittsburgh’s $30. These are fairly non-committal bets here. We wouldn’t recommend a large bet in this situation, either, given how close this matchup looks on paper.

And it does look much closer than it would have just a few weeks ago. The Steelers are blowing up the DVOA charts at Football Outsiders, checking in at No. 8 overall (No. 4 offense, No. 26 defense, No. 11 special teams) through Week 8. So much for getting rid of offensive co-ordinator Todd Haley. As for the Ravens, they remain No. 2 overall (No. 7 offense, No. 5 defense, No. 6 special teams) despite losing 27-24 to the Cincinnati Bengals (+2.5 at home) last week.

But that’s one website’s opinion. Pro Football Reference is not so ebullient over Pittsburgh’s offense, giving the Steelers a minus-0.9 SRS overall (plus-1.6 offense, minus-2.5 defense). For that matter, the Ravens offense also takes a Simple Rating System hit at plus-1.4, so at least there’s some consistency when it comes to measuring the relative merits of both teams. Even so, Baltimore’s plus-8.4 SRS overall translates to a rough points spread of Baltimore –7 for Sunday’s contest.


Cold Cash
To steal a poker phrase and use it incorrectly, what are the chances of the Ravens recognizing that equity against Pittsburgh? They have by far the better defense as well as the better special teams, and the Steelers are likely to be the public’s choice, especially after dropping 51 points on the Colts while dressed like bumblebees. But even though we called it even in two of our five key NFL handicapping categories, you could make an argument that Pittsburgh has a slight edge in coaching, and the Steelers are also playing their third straight game at home.

Before we go, here’s your weather report for Sunday night: Clear skies with light winds, and temperatures dipping into the high 30s. The last two games at the Mustard Bowl were blowouts, but we expect a much tighter contest between these bitter rivals, especially playing late into the night. Let’s dial up another 1-star bet for the underdogs, and as always, may the prolate spheroid be with you.


The Five Stars
Injuries/Suspensions/Travel/Rest: EVEN
Defense/Special Teams: BAL
Coaching: EVEN
Market Bias: BAL
Betting Line Value: PIT

Verdict: 1-star pick on BAL

Free NFL Pick: Bet 1.4 units on the Ravens +1 at Bet365

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