NFL Picks: Ravens vs. Steelers Betting the Over/Under

Jason Lake

Sunday, November 2, 2014 1:24 PM GMT

Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014 1:24 PM GMT

If it’s the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers, then people are going put the UNDER in their Week 9 NFL picks. But didn’t the Steelers just blow out the total all by themselves in Week 8?

Jason’s record after Week 8: 24-33 ATS, 9-12-1 Totals

Profit: minus-29.93 units
 

You know the drill by now: It’s the Baltimore Ravens visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers this week on Sunday Night Football (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC), and that means low-scoring, smashmouth football. Three yards and a cloud of dust. Slow-motion replays over martial music on NFL Films. So let’s head on over to the Week 9 NFL odds board and see what the total is this time… maybe 41 points or so…

Sweet Jack Ham, 48 points?! Really? Really? That’s the highest total EVAR between these two teams, at least since Art Modell backed up the moving trucks in Cleveland. Okay, so scoring is up in the NFL, and Pittsburgh is coming off a 51-34 win over the Indianapolis (formerly Baltimore) Colts that crushed their 48-point total before the first half was done. But this is unexplored territory we’re moving into here.

Review our thought's on the Ravens vs. Steelers Opening Odds

At the Half
We’ve gotten burned more than once here at the ranch by playing the UNDER just because the totals were higher than usual. But it’s going to be very difficult to recommend any other NFL pick for this matchup. Early and presumably sharp bettors seem to agree; they pounded the UNDER at a 75-percent clip when the total had its Grand Opening at 47.5 points. Even by the time Friday morning had rolled around, the UNDER was still getting 57 percent support.

Despite this action, we haven’t seen much movement from Sunday night’s NFL odds. The total has flipped back and forth between 47.5 and 48 points, which isn’t entirely insignificant – the fair price at Wizard of Odds for buying that half-point would be 6.5 cents. But it’s still only 6.5 cents. Either the action up to this points has been light, or the books are leaving room for more casual fans to bet the OVER this weekend. Maybe a little of both.
 

James and the Giant Reputation
In case you’re unfamiliar with the Ravens-Steelers rivalry, let’s get you caught up: They hate each other. And their games usually devolve into wars of attrition – especially when they play in Pittsburgh. Only one of their past 12 meetings at the Mustard Bowl has produced more than 45 points, let alone 48. The highest posted total of any of those dozen games was 43 points, by the way. That’s the main reason the OVER went 7-4-1 during that stretch. Don’t let those NFL betting trends fool you.

But that’s all in the past, and as they say, past performance does not guarantee future results. The 2014 Steelers are special; special, that is, in how bad their defense has become. Let’s allow Football Outsiders to chart their decline in terms of defensive DVOA:

2010: No. 1 overall
2011: No. 7
2012: No. 13
2013: No. 19
2014: No. 26

That’s the Steelers for you in a nutshell. This is not the same team that won the AFC in 2010; most of those players have either left as free agents, retired, or simply grown old. LB James Harrison has managed to do all three. Harrison (age 36) was cut by the Steelers in 2013, played last year for the Cincinnati Bengals, retired, then un-retired this September to rejoin his former team. It’s been a patchwork solution at best.

We’re going to bet the UNDER anyway. These are two of the better offenses in the NFL, with Pittsburgh at No. 4 and Baltimore at No. 7 on the DVOA charts. But the Ravens also have the No. 5-ranked defense, and the Steelers special teams have left 8.5 “hidden” points on the field this year, or No. 29 overall. Kicking field goals at the Mustard Bowl? Now that’s a frightening thought.

Free NFL Pick: Bet one unit on UNDER 48 (–108) at Bodog

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