NFL Picks: Don't Follow the Crowd, Bet Ravens Plus Odds Against Steelers

Swinging Johnson

Tuesday, December 22, 2015 8:37 PM GMT

The Steelers are stating their case for a playoff appearance by winning five of their last six while the Ravens are relegated to playing spoiler. Let’s check the NFL odds on this AFC North tilt.

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NFL Pick: Ravens +11 ½ (-135) 
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

 

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5 SU, 7-4-3 ATS)
If you went shopping early for a sharp line on the Steelers last week you would have spied that the NFL odds makers were installing Pittsburgh as 6½ point favorites. However, as the week progressed the line moved to seven which proved to be a critical number as the Steelers rallied from an early deficit to defeat the Denver Broncos 34-27. Thus, if you backed the Steelers laying 6½ you would have cashed in your NFL picks not only in that contest but in three of their previous last four games.

Big Ben Roethlisberger is proving indispensable as he continues to overcome injuries to suit up and get the job done. In the 10 games that Roethlisberger has been under center for the Steelers, Pittsburgh has averaged a league best 338 passing yards and scored 30 points or more in six consecutive contests. If there is one blemish on his remarkable season it would be his higher than average interception ratio. Big Ben has had 12 picks in 10 games but it should be noted when Roethlisberger launches he goes long unlike others who dump off a three-yard pass that a receiver may take 20 yards downfield which credits the passer as well as the receiver for the long gainer. Roethlisberger averages approximately 40 passes per game and his average pass is 11 yards in the air which is far and away the longest of any other quarterback in the league.

 

Baltimore Ravens (4-10 SU, 3-9-2 ATS)
The Baltimore Ravens’ season is coming to a merciful close with only two games left and a high draft pick this coming April in their midst. The team has dropped their last three contests and languishes with one of the worst records in football. Their most recent defeat was a 34-14 shellacking at the hands of the resurgent Kansas City Chiefs. This was the first time in franchise history that the team has lost back-to-back games by 20 points or more and set another dubious team record with five home losses on the season.

Mistakes, miscues and blunders contributed to Baltimore’s blowout loss to the Chiefs. Two of Kansas City’s touchdowns were the result of a fumble return and a pick-six. There was a fake punt that fooled nobody except the Ravens themselves as well as a series of costly penalties. It was illustrative of their entire season and one that could have had markedly different results had they won the close games they lost. In their previous eight defeats the Ravens lost by an average margin of 4.2 points per game which signifies a team that is competitive despite being unsuccessful. The last two games against the Seahawks and Chiefs depicted a team that has become despondent, losing both contests by a combined 49 points. Baltimore has one more home game to redeem themselves but it will be against a white hot Steelers team vying for a playoff berth.

 

Betting Analysis
It’s difficult to imagine that the Ravens’ first win of the season came against their divisional rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-20, particularly when you consider the state of the teams as they enter Week 16 of the NFL season. Divisional games are a different animal. The Ravens, though a shadow of their former selves, are still a team that has hung tough in defeat this season. Yes, the Seahawks blew them out in Week 14 and last week the Chiefs did the same. But consider that if the Ravens did not make the mental mistakes against KC they would have indeed been in that game and perhaps covered the number.

This game is personal for the Ravens. Pittsburgh is coming off an enormous win over the Broncos so there could be a considerable let down. Also know that Pittsburgh is 1-8 ATS on the road as favorites of nine points or more. The Steelers need the game but don’t follow the sheeple and the squares into gambling oblivion by blindly backing Pittsburgh. The home dog is getting a boatload of points here so let’s take advantage.