While the (10-2) Pittsburgh Steelers seem to have control over the AFC North, it could all change tonight when the Steelers host their biggest divisional rivals, the (7-5) Baltimore Ravens, at Heinz Field (8:30 PM ET Sunday).
The rivalry between the Steelers and Ravens has been one of the most intense in all of the NFL. Since the 2000s, it has even been considered one of the top rivalries in the sport as all of the typical rivalry boxes are checked. Pittsburgh and Baltimore have the proximity as far as geographic location, they both have been largely successful especially over the last almost two decades and the two teams really and truly don’t like each other.
In addition to locking up the division, the Steelers would love nothing more than to put another loss on Baltimore’s record, making their own road to the postseason that much more difficult. Not to mention, a win by Pittsburgh will help them keep pace with the (10-2) New England Patriots as they look to secure the top seed and a first round bye in the AFC playoffs.
Both the Steelers and Ravens are on a roll right now, with Baltimore having won four of their last five and Pittsburgh on a dominant seven-game winning streak. Permitting it doesn’t end the way the first meeting between these two teams did, as Pittsburgh cruised to a 26-9 victory in Baltimore, this game should be great Sunday night viewing.
Ravens’ Run Defense vs Le’Veon Bell
Le’Veon Bell is one of the top running backs in the NFL and he has shown that by putting up great numbers for each of the past several seasons. However, due to a preseason holdout in an attempt to increase his contract, Bell missed all of training camp and all of the team’s preseason games. This left some wondering if Bell would be game-shape ready come the start of the 2017 regular season.
As it would turn out, those people had legitimate reason to be concerned as Bell was slow to get out of the gate. The 25-year-old back failed to reach 100 yards in each of his first three games, which was extremely uncharacteristic. However, in week four as the Steelers took on the Ravens, Bell exploded to the tune of a season-high 35 carries and 144 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Since then, Bell has only topped 100+ yards two additional times, but he has averaged more carries and more yards per carry than in the early season. Since that Ravens game, Bell is averaging 147 yards from scrimmage and leads the NFL with over 1,500 yards from scrimmage on the season. Bell has dominated the Ravens throughout his career, running for 122 and 129 yards in his last two home games against the Ravens.
Everything seems to point to Bell having another dominant game at Heinz Field. However, there is one thing to consider which is actually in Baltimore’s favor. Because Bell isn’t the only one who’s looked different as of late. Baltimore’s run defense hasn’t allowed more than 80 yards on the ground in a single game over the las five weeks. The team is excelling with their run defense right now and it’s possible that even against a tough runner in Bell, that the Ravens are able to keep up that strong pace.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Betting Stats
- The Ravens are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games against divisional opponents.
- Pittsburgh is 11-0 SU in their last 11 games at night.
- Baltimore is 3-9 SU in their last 12 road games.
- The total has hit the under in eight of the last 12 Steelers’ games.
Our Preview’s Ravens vs. Steelers Betting Picks & Predictions Verdict
Heinz Field has provided a great home field advantage for the Steelers all year as not only has the team lost just one of their five home games so far, but in addition they are averaging a whole touchdown more compared to on the road. In contrast, the Ravens are averaging eight points less on the road than they are in Baltimore.
But, this is still a divisional game and the Steelers haven’t swept the Ravens in a single season since 2009, meaning that in each of the last seven seasons, the teams have split the series. For this reason, Pittsburgh probably doesn’t enter as big a favorite as their seven-game winning streak and AFC-best record might otherwise indicate.
- Pittsburgh did open as full touchdown favorites with the offshore US sports betting websites but those numbers have since adjusted to about 4.5 or 5 points. Given the Steelers haven’t swept the Ravens since 2009, our betting predictions’ pick is to take Baltimore +5pts @ -110 with Bovada to pull off the upset on the road.
- This game is pitting two of the league’s best defenses head-to-head so this preview expects the total points to go under the 42.5 or 43 point line set by the sportsbooks. Even with the Steelers’ propensity to score big at home, this rivalry has always been dominated by defense and there’s no reason to expect that to change tonight. The best option is under 43pts @ -110 with Bovada or MyBookie.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.