NFL Picks: Back Steelers +125 at Home Against 0-3 Ravens

Kevin Stott

Thursday, October 1, 2015 2:39 AM GMT

Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015 2:39 AM GMT

The Steelers welcome the Ravens to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on Thursday evening for this big AFC North showdown and a game which NFL odds makers know is much more important for the visitors.

With Steelers veteran QB Ben Roethlisberger now out 4-6 weeks with a serious Knee injury incurred in Sunday’s win against the Rams, Joe Flacco and the Ravens definitely have a shot at their first win here and the Point Spread actually has them favored—with Michael Vick starting for Pittsburgh—so this is a weird spot and a weird situation on a weird night for both teams. Let’s preview this Week 4 game with all the key information, Odds, Trends and significant Injuries and make a precise NFL pick from what could likely happen.

 

Odds Overview
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers [Friday 01:25] (CBS, NFL Network, Directv 212, 8:25 p.m. EDT/5:25 p.m. PDT): The Ben Roethlisberger-less Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS) welcome the Baltimore Ravens (0-3 SU, 0-3 ATS) to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on Thursday night for this huge Week 4 AFC North showdown from the Steel City and almost must-win for the winless Ravens. Right now (Tuesday afternoon), because of the Roethlisberger injury (MCL, Knee), the visiting Ravens are actually solid 2½-point favorites almost everywhere—the Advanced Line for Week 4 (SuperBook) had Pittsburgh installed as 3½-point chalks for this game, so you can see what the injury to Big Ben did to perceptions and the number.

The Total in this game is at 43½ or 44 in most places, while on the Money Line, the favored Ravens are priced at -138 with the host and underdog Steelers lined at +125 on the takeback (Pinnacle). The Pittsburgh Steelers Team Total has been set at 20½ (Ladbrokes) for this game while the Baltimore Ravens Team Total has been set at 23 (Ladbrokes). Noteworthy: The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened the Steelers as 3-point favorites in this game in their NFL Games of the Year (released mid-Summer).

Ravens vs. Steelers ATS Pick

Ravens vs. Steelers Total Pick

Steelers Player Props

Ravens Player Props

Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens (70 PF-84 PA) have opened up with a brutal schedule, playing AFC heavies San Diego, Denver, Cincinnati and now Pittsburgh in Weeks 1-4, with three of those four games on the Road, so it’s almost hard to blame QB Joe Flacco (42-34-2 as Favorite) and Head Coach John Harbaugh (68-58-4 ATS) for this dismal start and this team may not be as bad as some Power Rankings may suggest. But to win here at Heinz Field, Baltimore and HC Harbaugh will have to come up with the near-perfect game-plan here, try to establish a Rushing attack through RB Justin Forsett and others, try to get the ball to veteran WR Steve Smith (163 yards) as much as possible and try to have its Defense stop this talented Steelers Offense.

But besides the 0-3 start and the game being played in the Steel City, the Ravens (66/1 to win Super Bowl, Stan James) will have a little less talent to try to get the win here—even with Vick at the helm making his first start for Pittsburgh—with guys like WR Torrey Smith, TE Owen Daniels and NT Haloti Ngata all gone, gone, gone. On the Injury front, T Eugene Moore (Concussion), DL Chris Canty (Calf), CB Tray Walker (Thigh) and WR Breshad Perriman (Knee) are all listed as Questionable for the Ravens while Baltimore has a bunch of talented guys stuck on the Injured-Reserve List in LB Terrell Suggs (Achilles), TE Dennis Pitta (Hip), DE Brent Urban (Bicep) and S Matt Elam (Bicep).

 

Pittsburgh Steelers
Besides Roethlisberger (MCL) and usual starting C Maurkice Pouncey (Left Fibula-Ankle), the Pittsburgh Steelers (76 PF-52 PA) will be without the services of WR Martavis Bryant who is serving the fourth of his 4-game Suspension for violating the NFL’s Drug Policy while CB Cortez Allen (Head), DT Daniel McCullers (Knee) and LB Ryan Shazier (Shoulder) have all been listed as Questionable for this game. Pittsburgh (28/1 to win Super Bowl, William Hill) and Head Coach Mike Tomlin (69-68-2 ATS) also have five players on the Injured-Reserve List, including the aforementioned Pouncey, starting Ks Shaun Suisham (Knee) and Garrett Hartley (Hamstring), TE Rob Blanchflower (Ankle) and T Mike Adams (back).

So, Pittsburgh is beat up and will have to roll with Vick—his backup is Landry Jones—but with RB Le’Veon Bell back from his 2-game Suspension (Marijuana) and jumping over mountains, RB DeAngelo Williams (204 yards, 3 TDs), star WR Antonio Brown (29 receptions, 436 yards, 2 TDs) and guys like TE Heath Miller, WR Markus Wheaton and WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Steelers GM Kevin Colbert has done a fine job of providing depth on Offense while the Defense (17.3 ppg, #9 in NFL) has done an admirable job in its first three games against opponents like the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots (3-0), the San Francisco 49ers (1-2) and the St. Louis Rams (1-2).

With Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau gone to the Titans, the performances the Steel Curtain put up against the NFC West’s 49ers (18 points allowed) and Rams (6 points) are quite impressive and even with having played an easier schedule and lost so much more (LeBeau, Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor), Pittsburgh may end up having a slightly better D than Baltimore this season.

 

Series Numbers, Recent Relevant Trends and Game Expectations
Trend-wise, Pittsburgh is 4-1 ATS the L5 against the Ravens—not including the Playoffs—and in this Regular Season game here last year at Heinz Field, the Steelers rolled to a 43-23 victory as 2½-point favorites, although the last time these two teams met here in the Steel City was in the opening round of the AFC Playoffs where Baltimore ousted the Steelers, 30-17 as 3-point underdogs. Here, with Vick at the helm for Pittsburgh and Baltimore so nervous about losing, expect a potentially lower-scoring chess-match type game—possibly similar to the one Pittsburgh just played on Sunday in St. Louis—and one worth considering the Under (44, The Greek) although primetime TV games have had the tendency to go Over the past couple of years so probably best just left alone.

Baltimore has actually W3 of the L5 meetings (including Playoffs) here SU, but those were better Baltimore Rosters and had less pressure on them than this team does in this game. The thought is that with Pittsburgh’s Defense playing better, Vick in a situation to prove his worth (again) and the huge edges in Momentum, Crowd and Skill Position players (Bell, Williams, Brown, Wheaton, Miller) with the Steelers, backing them just to win and do some serious damage is the prescription here despite the NFL odds makers' sentiments. The Weather forecast here at Heinz Field on Thursday night calls for a game-time Temperature of 59° with a 30% chance of Light Showers during the game, Relative Humidity of 59% and gusty North Winds of 10-15 mph.

Predicted Final Score: Pittsburgh Steelers 22 Baltimore Ravens 20.

NFL Pick: Steelers +125 at Pinnacle

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