Betting Odds, Preview & NFL Picks for Ravens vs. Steelers

Kevin Stott

Thursday, October 30, 2014 7:26 PM GMT

Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014 7:26 PM GMT

When AFC North teams have met recently, the Under has been a strong trend bet but is it safe here in Pittsburgh against the Ravens with Big Ben coming off of a monster 522-yard passing game last week?

Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Ravens -1, 48, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook), Sunday, (NBC, 8:30 p.m./5:30 p.m. PT)
Another solid NFL Sunday Night Football game on NBC this weekend sees the revived Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3 SU, 4-4 ATS) welcome the Baltimore Ravens (5-3 SU, 4-3-1 ATS) to Heinz Field in a game sure to have strong implications in the final standings in the AFC North and a game which may end up costing the loser a playoff spot.

Oddsmakers opened up the host Steelers as 1½-point Favorites on Monday but bettors have pounded the Ravens and now (Wednesday afternoon) Baltimore is a slight 1-point Favorite (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) although the majority of sportsbooks in Las Vegas and offshore have the game as a Pick. Worth noting, the Steelers were -3½ in the 2014 Games of the Year odds at the SuperBook released over the summer. The moneline NFL odds are dead even at Ravens -110, Steelers -110 (William Hill) while the Total Points for the game is at 48 right now almost everywhere. The Ravens Total Team Points is at 23½ (bet365) as is the host Steelers Total Team Points (23½, SkyBet).

Opening Odds Report for AFC North Rivals: Ravens vs. Steelers

 

Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens could have done themselves and head coach John Harbaugh (62-50-6 ATS) a huge favor last Sunday in Cincinnati by beating the Bengals but the hosts beat Baltimore, 27-24 to create a funky reality where halfway through the NFL regular season this division has all four teams above the .500 mark (Bengals 4-2-1, Steelers 5-3, Ravens 5-3, Browns 4-3) and all not only in position to qualify for a playoff berth but also in position where they can win the AFC North. And simply, the winner of this game may end up winning the division because they won this particular game. QB Joe Flacco (173/279, 2,049 yards, 14 TDs), RB Justin Forsett (104/571, 3 TDs), WRs Steve Smith Sr. (18 receptions, 300 4 TDs, 16.5 ypc) and Torrey Smith (18 receptions, 308 yards, 4 TDs, 17.1 ypc) and TE Owen Daniels, who injured his knee in the loss to the Bengals and is listed as Questionable for this game, as are WRs Torrey Smith (concussion) and Michael Campanaro (hamstring), CB Jimmy Smith (foot), but it’s TE Daniels presence or absence which is the big thing and not knowing if he will play makes picking the winner—and essentially the point spread winner in a Pick game—that much harder.

One area the Ravens (1-5 L6 ATS vs. NFC North) are better at than the Steelers this season is on defense. Baltimore is allowing just 16.4 ppg (#2 in NFL) while Pittsburgh, once noted for its stellar defense is allowing an average of 25.5 ppg (#21). So the big question here is can the Ravens (3-6 SU L9 Road) solid defense stop a Pittsburgh team which seems to finally have its offense where it wants it to be coming off of a 51-point explosion against the Colts? And it’s that concept that Baltimore (5-2 ATS L7) will have to do what it does best—play a strong defensive game or face the nasty consequences—that makes it seem like this game will go Under the posted Total of 48.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers
With the Steelers (11-5 ATS L16) big win against the Colts last week, Pittsburgh (7-3 ATS L10 Home) is now right in the thick of the AFC North race, but QB Roethlisberger (206/301, 2,380 yards, 16 TDs) and his team will have their work cut out for them Sunday night in The Steel City and will have to earn every point they get against the hard-hitting Ravens defense which will be fired up for the prime-time television affair and try to reproduce the performance it had in Week 2’s 26-6 win at Home in Crab City.

As mentioned, the Steelers offense is much better and much more balanced than it has been over the past couple of seasons and RBs Le’Veon Bell (691 yards) and LeGarrette Blount (243 yards), TE Heath Miller and WR Antonio Brown (60 receptions, 852 yards, 4 TDs) are a big part of the reason why, along with Big Ben (36-22-2 ATS vs. AFC North). But after seeing how well Brown—who has emerged into one of the top receivers on the NFL—has played lately, the Ravens will no doubt game-plan to stop him from having a monster game like he did against Indianapolis (10 receptions, 133 yards, 2 TDs).

On the injury front for Pittsburgh, S Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) , T Marcus Gilbert (concussion) and NT Steve McLendon (shoulder) are all listed as Questionable, so the Steelers are relatively healthy although CB Ike Taylor (forearm) is Out Indefinitely and will be missed here.

 

Trends and Best Approach
Besides a statistic where 12 of the L14 meetings in this series have seen less than 45 points scored, there’s not much to work with as the trends are a mixed bag and are as conflicting and zig-zaggy as the reality that the line opened at Steelers -1½ and has moved to Ravens -1 (SuperBook). And backing that Under-leading stat is the fact that Baltimore is 3-1 Under and Pittsburgh is 2-1 Under in Division (AFC North) play this season although the Over is 4-2 in the L6 Ravens games and 9-4 in the L13 Steelers contests.

Three of Pittsburgh’s 4 losses ATS this season have all come in the Division (0-3 ATS) so Baltimore and QB Flacco (31-23-4 ATS Away) can take solace in that as well as the fact it already beat the Steelers but the Ravens will need TE Daniels to be available for the game and healthy enough to make the big catch at the right time.

In the end, when considering your NFL picks keep in mind that this game should be tight and very entertaining, but because both teams really can’t afford to lose here, expect a conservative approach and that’s a good thing in a game where the Total is posted at in a series where 37s and 37½ were hung just two seasons ago. And if you’re wondering about the weather in Pittsburgh on Sunday, The Weather Channel is forecasting a chance of rain and a low temperature of 32°, so, it could be a bit messy and a little cold.

NFL Picks: Under 48 at 5Dimes

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