Ravens vs. Steelers: Should We Trust Vick's Home Start with our Week 4 NFL Picks?

Jason Lake

Monday, September 28, 2015 7:45 PM GMT

Monday, Sep. 28, 2015 7:45 PM GMT

With “Big Ben” Roethlisberger missing the next 4-6 weeks, the NFL odds have swung toward the Baltimore Ravens for Thursday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Jason's 2015 record as of Sept. 27: 12-7 ATS; 0-1 ML (–1.00 units); 6-9 Total

 

Ben Roethlisberger has made at least 12 starts for the Pittsburgh Steelers every year since he turned pro in 2004. Amazingly, that streak could continue this year, even after Roethlisberger suffered what appeared to be a nasty knee injury on Sunday versus the St. Louis Rams. Turns out it's “just” a sprained MCL and a bone bruise. Big Ben will miss at least four weeks, although six appears more likely.

That leaves Michael Vick to start Thursday night's game (8:25 p.m. ET, CBS/NFLN) at home against the Baltimore Ravens. How much of a downgrade does Vick represent? This game opened as a pick' em on our NFL odds before Baltimore steamed to – 2.5. Our early consensus reports show 57 percent support for the visitors as we go to press. Did we mention the Ravens are 0-3 SU and ATS to start the 2015 regular season?

Ravens vs. Steelers SU Pick

Ravens vs. Steelers ATS Pick

Ravens vs. Steelers Total Pick

Steelers Player Props

Ravens Player Props

2001: A Sports Odyssey
We've been Vick apologists (no, not for the dogfighting) here at the home office since the day he set foot in the NFL back in 2001 – which was also the year we first set up shop. Dual-threat quarterbacks, particularly those of the African-American variety, have been grossly undervalued for years, and it's still happening today (see Taylor, Tyrod). Vick wasn't a exactly a pioneer, but those 7.0 yards per carry lifetime led to four Pro Bowls.

It's been a while since the last one, though. Vick led the 2010 Philadelphia Eagles to a 8-2 SU and 5-5 ATS record in his 10 complete starts that year, after taking over for the injured Kevin Kolb in the season opener. It's been pretty much downhill from there. Vick is 35 years old now, and he was unable to make much of an impact when he replaced Geno Smith for the 2014 New York Jets. Will this assignment be any different?

 

No Suggs
Almost certainly. Football is a team sport, and the 2015 Steelers are a much better team than the 2014 Jets. Pittsburgh has elite skill players on offense, starring two of the league's best in WR Antonio Brown and RB Le'Veon Bell. The offensive line is an issue without center Maurkice Pouncey, but Vick's mobility will help keep him out of trouble, and he's still got enough power in that left arm to make all the throws.

On the other side of the field, you have, the Ravens, who are off to a terrible start this year and might not have much room for improvement. No, they're probably not as bad as that 0-3 record, losing all three games in ignominious fashion after going up late in the fourth quarter. And LB Terrell Suggs (out for the year with a torn Achilles) isn't quite as important to the team's success as he used to be. But do the Ravens really belong in our NFL picks? We'll be back later this week with the answer.

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