NFL Picks: Steelers vs. Ravens Betting the Spread

Jason Lake

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 3:24 PM GMT

Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 3:24 PM GMT

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be missing a few good men when they visit the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday. The NFL betting odds are edging toward Baltimore in response.

Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to November 23 inclusive:

27-24-2 ATS

1-1 ML (+0.71 units)

5-8-1 Totals

The Baltimore Ravens (5-6 SU, 6-5 ATS) don’t want to hear about your injuries. They’ve come up largely short in defending their Super Bowl championship, thanks to personnel issues on both sides of the ball. But this Thursday night, the Ravens get to host the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-6 SU and ATS), who have had their own issues to deal with. And those issues are mounting.

The football betting public has taken notice. As I mentioned at the open of this week’s NFL lines, Baltimore started things off as a 3-point home favorite. Actually, we had a number of different lines floating around that number, everywhere from Baltimore –1 (–140) to Baltimore –3 at +100, –105 or the standard –110 juice. Many online sportsbooks have been adding a little chalk since then to their price on the Ravens, settling closer to –3 (–105). Our early consensus reports show 54 percent support for Baltimore.

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The Nose Doesn’t Play

Pittsburgh supporters got the bad news Monday when NT Steve McLendon was ruled out for Thursday night’s game (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC) after he sprained his right ankle in last week’s win over the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers filled the hole by shifting DE Al Woods to the middle, and he came through with two sacks, but this is still a patchwork solution for a defensive line that already ranks No. 28 against the run and No. 27 against the pass, according to the efficiency stats at Football Outsiders.

It also remains to be seen whether former Pro Bowl DE Brett Keisel (plantar fasciitis) will be able to suit up on Thursday. Keisel is already struggling in what could be the last go-around for the 12-year veteran, but now he’s missed the last two games, and if things don’t go well in Tuesday’s practice, you can make it three straight. We’ll also have to wait and see how LB LaMarr Woodley (calf) and safety Shamarko Thomas (ankle) hold up on Tuesday.

November Spawned a Parlay

Looking again at my previous article, my first inclination was to take OVER 40.5 in this matchup. The old favorite-OVER parlay doesn’t have quite as much sting in its tail when the NFL point spreads get this small, but there’s still a correlation between the two bets, and having the Steelers in there with a decimated D-line should help Baltimore put some more points up on the board.

So will playing at home. The fans at M&T Bank Stadium don’t get as much publicity as the rowdy folks in Seattle, but this is one of the loudest venues in the NFL, and the Ravens are 4-1 ATS at home this year. Pittsburgh is 2-4 ATS on the road. Having said that, the Steelers are 3-2 SU and 4-1 ATS in their last five regular-season games in Baltimore, winning twice as 3-point dogs in very low-scoring affairs. This is a marginal play any way you slice it.

Also make sure to check out our:

NFL Picks: Steelers vs. Ravens Opening Odds Report

Pitta Patter

As for the Ravens, they were pleased to see TE Dennis Pitta (hip) participate in Monday’s walkthrough, but he isn’t expected to make his season debut until Week 14 versus the Minnesota Vikings. Pitta led Baltimore with seven TD catches last year and was tied for second with 61 catches. His replacement, veteran TE Dallas Clark, is second on the team this year with 30 catches and three TDs.

Getting Pitta back this week would have been very nice, but I’ll have to pick Baltimore anyway. Not every sportsbook has moved the line in that direction since the open, so there are some small bargains available as we go to press. I’ll take what I can get.

NFL Pick: Take the Ravens –3 (+106) at Marathon

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