Sunday Night Football’s matchup is a big AFC North showdown between the Ravens and the Steelers. These rivals are playing for more than just hate toward each other. Each team is currently holding one of the 6 AFC playoff spots. The Steelers are currently leading the division and already beat the Ravens 26-9 in October. The Ravens are battling for a Wild Card spot and would love to trip up their rival from keeping the top spot in the AFC Conference. Kickoff inside Heinz Field is at 8:30 PM ET.
This is the 44th meeting between the Steelers and the Ravens. Pittsburgh leads the all-time series 23-20. The Ravens have won 6 of the last 10 games, but the Steelers come into this matchup winning 2 straight over Baltimore.
Baltimore (7-5) is 3-3 on the road, has won 3 straight games and 4 out of 5. They are in a heated battle for one of the two Wild Card spots. If they can upset the Steelers they will only be 2 games back in the division with 3 remaining. They will also make it harder for the teams behind them to catch up. Baltimore holds the advantage over Oakland and Buffalo who are currently one game back of the Ravens and rooting for Pittsburgh this weekend.
The Steelers (10-2) have won 7 straight games and are 4-1 at home. Their only loss at home on the season was a 30-9 beatdown by the Jaguars. Since then, Pittsburgh has won 7 straight and sits in 1st place for the AFC Conference.
The spread opened with the Steelers favored by 7 points, but it currently sits at 5 points. The Over/Under opened at 44 total points and remains unchanged.
Both teams come into this matchup missing key pieces. For the Ravens they will be without their top defensive back as Jimmy Smith is out for the season with a torn Achilles. The Steelers will be without wide receiver JuJu Smith-Shuster due to a suspension after a crackback block against Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Steelers top linebacker Ryan Shazier is also out this week due to suffering a spinal injury in the game against the Bengals last weekend.
I believe without Smith, the Ravens secondary will have troubles stopping the Steelers explosive receivers led by the league’s best – Antonio Brown. Martavis Bryant will replace Shuster and I don’t expect much of a drop-off. In fact, I see Bryant having a big game this week as the Ravens will try to limit Brown from dominating.
In their first meeting on October 1st, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell had 144 total yards and 2 touchdowns. He will need a similar performance this weekend for the Steelers to win.
Over their last 4 wins, the Ravens have scored a total of 130 points. That’s the best stretch for the Ravens this season on the offensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, the Ravens still have one of the worst passing attacks in the league. But, Flacco has had success in Pittsburgh over his career. Flacco is 4-3 in Pittsburgh with 8 TDs, 3 INTs, and 241.7 ypg. However, this week, I don’t see him having much success as Pittsburgh has one of the best pass defenses in the league, allows only 219.7 passing ypg and 17.8 ppg.
Baltimore’s running game has improved as the season has gone on. They are now averaging 115 ypg and Alex Collins is leading the way. The young back has 705 yards and 4 rushing TDs on the season. I expect him to grind it out for the Ravens on offense. But, the Steelers are good against the run as they only allow 98.8 ypg.
For the Ravens on defense, they allow 112 rushing yards per game and I believe that Bell will be able to cross the 100 yard mark this week with at least one TD. This game will be an ugly, hard fought battle all the way until the end. But, I see Pittsburgh pulling it out with a late TD to win the game.
Pittsburgh is 4-2 ATS in their last 6 home games. The Ravens are 2-4 ATS in their last 6 games following 2 or more consecutive wins. They’re also 4-8-1 ATS in their last 14 road games and 2-2-2 ATS in their last 6 games at Pittsburgh.
Look for the Ravens defense and running game to keep things close, but Flacco will falter late in the game and the Steelers offense will capitalize. With Smith out for the Ravens, they will be hurting to cover the Steelers receivers, which will open up the field and allow Bell to run for over 100 yards. Big Ben will outplay Flacco and Pittsburgh will win 27-20.