After a grueling game last week for the Pittsburgh Steelers, they head into a rivalry game against the Baltimore Ravens. It could be another physical game for the Steelers, which is usually the case between these two. The Steelers ultimately clawed back to beat the Bengals last week by a score of 23-20. Chris Boswell connected on a late field goal to give the Steelers an overall record of 10-2.
The Patriots keep winning, but the Steelers haven’t gone anywhere. The Pats and Steelers have had some epic battles over the years, in the regular season and playoffs, and it’s sure to be true again this year. With a strong finish by the Ravens, and regression from the Steelers, the Ravens could still steal the division. A win today at Heinz Field is a must, though. The Ravens enter at 7-5. With a win, they could bring the gap a bit closer.
Despite a rather unforgettable year for Joe Flacco, the Ravens are hanging in there. And even if they don’t win the division, they’re serious contenders for the wildcard. Flacco isn’t having a spectacular year, but they are getting solid production elsewhere. There is still more than enough time for Flacco to heat up as well. I think that’s the key for the Ravens. The defense is going to be the glue that keeps them together. However, they really need Flacco to step up to bring them to the next level. When they went on their Super Bowl run years ago, Flacco was that guy. They need that version of Joe Flacco to find himself again.
Flacco has thrown for 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions with a completion percentage of 65.1%. There was a point when his quarterback rating was just about last. Assume that he was playing good this season, and you have a very good year for the Ravens.
The difference between the Ravens and Steelers is one has Ben Roethlisberger, and the other has an inconsistent Joe Flacco. The Steelers must quickly put their matchup against the Bengals in the past. Flacco is being paid to be just as good as Roethlisberger. He did look good last week, as he passed for 2 touchdowns and no interceptions against the Lions. We’ll see if he can take advantage of a Steelers’ defense coming off a smash mouth affair on Monday Night Football.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Betting Odds:
vs. Steelers -5(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Ravens vs. Steelers Pick:
Last week was the first time that Flacco threw 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. In fact, it was only the third time this season that he threw 2 touchdowns. He hasn’t had a 3 touchdown game this season. That’s pretty unbelievable for a guy who was one of the most consistent performers in the NFL. The Ravens have been aided this year by a terrific defense.
They’ve reverted the clocks, and are back to being one of the best defensive units in the NFL. The Ravens are 7th in the NFL, allowing an average of 311.2 yards per game. In particular, they’ve been stout against the pass, as they rank 3rd in the league. They are 3rd with 17.2 points surrendered per game.
The Steelers are holding their own on defense as well. This is shaping up to be classic Ravens-Steelers. Pittsburgh are allowing 17.8 points per game, 0.6 behind the Ravens. They are also neck and neck with respects to defending quarterbacks, with the Steelers in 2nd and the Ravens in 3rd against the pass. The Ravens have been getting great production from their run stoppers lately, as they’re allowing only 78 yards per game on the ground over their last five games. Le’Veon Bell gashed the Ravens for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns in their first meeting in 2017, a 26-9 win in favor of Pittsburgh.
Note that Baltimore will be without their top cornerback, as Jimmy Smith will be out. The Ravens must draw up a plan to contain Antonio Brown because Smith not on the field does leave a big hole. Roethlisberger will look to exploit this throughout the game. He always looks to get the ball to Brown, obviously, but it’s looking even more attractive without Smith in the lineup. I don’t really know if anyone can truly slow him down, though. It’s a tall order for any corner.
Brown did not practice on Thursday because of that toe injury, but I’d expect him to play. The Steelers will be down Smith-Schuster and linebacker Ryan Shazier. Shazier’s backup Tyler Matakevich was also injured against the Bengals. Their run defense looked lost without Shazier on the field, Matakevich was getting blown off the ball. Shazier leads the team in tackles and interceptions. The Steelers are on a short week after an emotional win over the Bengals. Now they have another physical opponent in Week 14 against the Ravens. The points on Baltimore look attractive in what looks like a 24-20 ball game.
PICK: RAVENS +5 (-110)