NFL Picks: Vick Welcomes Ravens for a Dogfight at Steel-Town

David Lawrence

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 2:58 PM GMT

The Baltimore Ravens have surprisingly stumbled to an 0-3 start. They are a team in crisis. While the Pittsburgh Steelers are 2-1, they are not in a very comfortable position in their own right, because their soon-to-be Hall of Fame quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, is going to be out for the next several weeks. Is this the time the Ravens break through, or is Pittsburgh strong enough at the other positions and on defense to still win on Thursday night?

Momentum
The Ravens have none of it. They haven’t won a game yet this season, and the maddening thing for them is that they can’t pin it on any one source. Joe Flacco has been inconsistent at quarterback. Baltimore goes through prolonged periods in which its offense ceases to function. These droughts bring the whole team down and put too much pressure on the defense as it’s presently constructed. The secondary suffers too many lapses, as seen this past Sunday against A.J. Green and Cincinnati. Enough is going wrong on both sides of the line of scrimmage to tell the Ravens that their problems are throughout the roster, not just in one spot.

The Steelers’ defense is getting the job done. The defense did not allow a touchdown in a road game this past Sunday in St. Louis. Pittsburgh was able to pound out a 12-6 win and survive the absence of its quarterback for an extended portion of the game. That mindset – being able to hang in on a day when Roethlisberger isn’t around – will need to exist for the Steelers to cash for your NFL picks.

 

Line Moves
The Ravens opened as a 2.5-point favorite on the NFL odds. They moved up to three, but the line moved back to 2.5 points. There is real doubt about Baltimore’s ability to win this game on the road, even though the Ravens should be in good shape with Roethlisberger out. The fact that Baltimore has struggled on defense as well as offense has prevented the line from staying a little higher than 2.5 points.

 

Notable Injuries
The Ravens have defensive end Chris Canty listed as questionable for this game with a calf injury. Cornerback Tray Walker is also questionable with a thigh injury. Wide receiver Breshad Perriman is doubtful for this game with a knee injury. Tackle Eugene Monroe is questionable with a concussion. Defensive end Brent Urban is on the injured reserve list with a bicep injury. Safety Matt Elam is under the same status.

For the Steelers, the main injury news is that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will miss this game and the next few weeks with a knee injury. That’s going to force Michael Vick into the starting role for Pittsburgh. Defensive tackle Daniel McCullers is questionable with a knee injury. Linebacker Ryan Shazier is questionable with a shoulder injury. Wide receiver Martavis Bryant has been suspended for the first four games of the season, so this is a game he will miss. Cornerback Cortez Allen is questionable with a knee injury. Center Maurkice Pouncey is on injured reserve. So is cornerback Senquez Golson. Tackle Mike Adams is on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list with a back injury.

 

Handicapping The Game
The fact that Big Ben is out is just going to be too important to ignore. Michael Vick will not be able to make up for Roethlisberger’s absence. Take the Ravens and trust that they’ll be able to win their first game of the season.

NFL Pick: Ravens -2.5 at The Greek

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