Bet Steelers Home Cover vs. Ravens for AFC Wildcard Weekend

Nikki Adams

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 2:15 PM GMT

Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers collide in a highly anticipated AFC Wildcard Showdown on Saturday. Will the Ravens defy the NFL odds or will the Steelers come through as the 3-point faves. Find out as we weigh in on this game and serve up our NFL picks.

Baltimore Ravens (10-6 SU, 4-4 away)
Baltimore Ravens opened as the 7-point home chalk against Cleveland Browns in week 17 NFL betting before the NFL lines surged up to 14-points. The catalyst was the news the Browns would be without an injured Brian Hoyer for their curtain-closer and relying on the services of Connor Shaw. Naturally, with a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start, the balance tipped in favour of the Ravens overwhelmingly. So confident were pundits and bettors alike that the Ravens would steamroll the Browns, by then out of the playoffs and playing for pride and to finish the season on a positive note.  

Imagine the surprise then when the Ravens were seen to be struggling and at one point were down 10-3 in the game and on the verge of couch-riding the playoffs. The Browns put up quite the fight in order to derail the Ravens from their course towards the playoff and almost spoiled the party in Baltimore, but for a late push by the Ravens to rally from behind and win 20-10 in the end.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5, 6-2 home)
After a highly competitive season in the AFC North, Pittsburgh Steelers emerge as the divisional champions with a last-gasp win against the Cincinnati Bengals in week 17 NFL betting. The interesting titbit: not once did the Steelers ever lead the AFC North, although the Bengals, Ravens and, even, Browns all enjoyed a stint atop the pile. Goes to show, you are only as good as your next game in the NFL. In this case, the last and the most important game of the season to win.

Steelers (-3) stifled the Bengals in a 27-17 win, a week after the Bengals had upset the Broncos and many entertained the opinion they were on the verge of putting paid on their reputation for being chokers on the big occasion. Big Ben, fighting flu-like symptoms and an upset stomach, managed to put in a stoic account as he completed 24-of-38 passes for 317 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Le'Veon Bell had a monster account before suffering an injury. His status is something NFL bettors will want to keep an eye on as we approach kickoff.

 

Ravens +3.0 (+100) vs. Steelers -3.0 (-120)
The clash between AFC North divisional rivals Ravens and Steelers features on Saturday's Wildcard menu, the second matchup of the day. Both teams come into this game behind wins in week 17 NFL betting, but the Steelers have the notional edge behind a four-game winning streak that included outplaying, outmuscling and outscoring the Cincinnati Bengals in a 27-17 win that secured the AFC North title and home advantage for the first round of the playoffs.

This game practically leaps off the page as a must-see showdown on the day's NFL betting card. The Ravens finished the season 10-6 SU and 7-8-1 ATS with a 6.7-point margin of victory. While they may have stuttered their way into the playoffs, bettors shouldn't be fooled by their underdog NFL odds. The playoffs are an entirely different beast and what happened in the regular season sometimes has no bearing in the sudden death rounds.

There's no denying the Raven's have championship pedigree: Two years ago they won the Super Bowl all while matched as one of the biggest underdogs in the broad spectrum of the postseason. They were the quintessential dangerous floaters of the postseason then, they are the quintessential underdogs once again matched at +3300 to win outright in NFL futures betting. So you can imagine how attractively they stand up on the NFL odds board as the 3-point underdogs against the spread and the +145 road underdogs for the straight up upset at Heinz Arena on Saturday.

Not if the Steelers have something to say about it all, of course. Steelers powered their way into the playoffs winning their last four games convincingly. Big Ben has rounded out into form at the best possible time and the Steelers makeshift secondary has grasped this new lease on life in the NFL with both hands. Earlier in the season, the Steelers beat the Ravens 43-23 at Heinz Stadium, payback for 26-6 loss in Baltimore (week 2). On that day, Roethlisberger had one of his best performances, a six-touchdown account all while completing 25-of-37 passes for 340 yards and ZERO interceptions.

Given the form the Steelers have shown in the business end of the season, there's an argument to be had about bookies underrating the Steelers with the 3-point spread and their marginal money line odds of -165 to win straight up. (Add to that their marginalisation in futures betting at +2200 as well and it's a perceptible trend). Certainly, as far as this matchup goes, the NFL odds stand in contrast to the fact that each team won a lopsided home game. Given that the Steelers have home advantage in this wildcard date, not least the momentum and form going for them, the balance has to tip in favour of the Steelers.

For our money, we expect the Steelers to run away with this game especially if Le'Veon Bell is fit. Although even without him Big Ben's ability to hurt opponents in the air is lethal. Case-and-point the 43-23 win in week 9 NFL betting. has another six-touchdown account as he did in their week 9 clash.

Free NFL Picks: Steelers at -165 and -3.0 at 5Dimes

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