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Pregame: Victory in Key Battle for the North?

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens 

1:00pm ET @ M&T Bank Stadium – Baltimore, Maryland.

Projected Score: Steelers: 24 / Ravens 19

Game Lines: Steelers (+3)  – O/U 47.0

TV Broadcast:

Broadcast starts at 1pm ET with Ian Eagle (play-by-play), Dan Fouts (analyst) and Evan Washburn (sideline) are calling the game.

Radio Broadcast:

Steelers Radio Network- Game coverage begins at 1:00 p.m. ET. Calling the game will be Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play), Tunch Ilkin (color analyst) and Craig Wolfley (sideline).

All fans in the Pittsburgh area can listen locally on WDVE 102.5 FM & WBGG 970 AM.

Injury Report:

CB Coty Sensabaugh (Toe) – Questionable
CB Artie Burns (Ankle) – Questionable
OT Marcus Gilbert (Knee) – Doubtful

What to Watch For:

1.Turnovers

Since the start of the 2008 season, 15 of 21 regular-season games between the Ravens and Steelers have been decided by four points or fewer. The Ravens defense has been among the best in the league so far this season but have only managed 1 total takeaway in their last 3 games. If the Steelers can take care of the football they will be in excellent shape to win in Baltimore.

2. Time of Possession Battle

There is no denying the Steelers defense is suspect which was never more evident this year than in their first matchup against the Ravens in Week 4. It will be very important for the Steelers to run the ball early and often to create long drives that keep the defense off the field. The team could possibly be without CBs Artie Burns and Cody Sensabaugh which would leave them very thin at CB. The offense in today’s game will likely be the best defense.

3. Vance McDonald

To have success on offense the Steelers need to be able to create one on one matchups for Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The biggest factor needed to make that happen will be the ability to feed McDonald early in the game. If the team can establish him as a strong threat this would cause the Ravens defense to be more spread out which will open up more opportunities for AB & JuJu. This would also allow Ben to make lower risk throws, reducing the chances of throwing an interception.

Gambling Advice

When they met in Week 4, the Steelers were a team with all sorts of problems and the Ravens looked like a playoff contender. Now, the roles have reversed. As mentioned, the Steelers have won 3 straight and the Ravens have lost 3 of 4 since Week 4.

For the Ravens, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why they’re losing. In Week 5, it was due to the offense only scoring 9 points. In week 7, it was due to going up against a better Saints team. And last week, it was the defense that failed as they gave up 36 points. With that said, Baltimore still has one of the best defenses in the league.

The Ravens only give up 17.1 ppg, 314.6 total ypg, and less than 100 rushing ypg (98.1). With such a solid defense, it’s surprising that they are only 4-4 especially after starting 3-1. One area of the team that you can point to as being a major issue for Baltimore, is their rushing offense. For the year, the Ravens only average 96.6 rushing ypg. In fact, they haven’t had a 100 yard rusher all year. That’s why they made a trade this week with the Packers for backup RB Ty Montgomery, who can also play receiver and return kicks. Baltimore is hoping for a spark in a pathetic running game.

The Steelers have had a decent running game this year with backup RB Conner leading the way. They average 100 rushing ypg and Conner has gone over that mark on 4 occasions. The offense as a whole, is averaging 427.1 ypg and 29.1 ppg. Big Ben is crushing it this year with 327.1 passing ypg. Since their loss to the Ravens, the Steelers have averaged 34 ppg.

The biggest weakness for Pittsburgh is their defense that’s giving up 381.7 total ypg and 24.6 ppg, which is what Baltimore averages per game. With that said, Pitt only allows 94.4 rushing ypg. So, the Ravens will still have a tough time rushing the ball this weekend.

I like the Steelers in this game. I believe they are playing solid football now and that offense is really firing on all cylinders. I’m not opposed to Pittsburgh’s moneyline of +115, but I rather play it safe and take the 3 points in a tough rivalry game.

Pittsburgh is 8-0-1 in its last 9 road games, 4-1 SU in their last 5 games, 11-4 SU when the spread is between +3 and -3, 4-0 SU when a road underdog of 3 pts or less, and 23-9 SU against the AFC North. Baltimore is 4-8 ATS in their last 12 games from Weeks 5 through 9, 6-10 SU when playing against winning teams, 1-2 SU against the AFC North this year.

I think this game is going to come down to whichever team can move the chains on the ground. And, I like Conner over whatever the Ravens have to offer. Additionally, I like Big Ben to outduel Flacco this weekend. Pittsburgh has won 2 straight divisional games and I believe this will be their 3rd straight.

 

Take the Steelers (+3) & the under with confidence 

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