One of the most heated, most storied and most closely-matched rivalries in football takes center stage as the (2-1) Pittsburgh Steelers travel to the (2-1) Baltimore Ravens, where first place in the AFC North will be on the line (1pm ET, Sunday).
On September 8, 1996, the Steelers defeated the Ravens 31-17 in what was the first ever meeting of the two franchises. In the ensuing 21 years, the two teams, who have been in the same division since the beginning, have developed one of the league’s more high profile rivalries. This is because both are known for their style of hard-hitting smash mouth football, spurred on by defensive dominance and physical intensity and because both have been successful and at the top of the AFC North ever since the division was created in 2002.
In 14 of the last 16 years, either the Ravens or the Steelers have won the AFC North championship, with the Steelers holding 10 of these divisional titles. The two teams have also combined for five conference championships and four Super Bowl wins, with Baltimore winning most recently in 2012 and Pittsburgh in 2008. The two have combined to play in 10 Super Bowls, only losing two. After 46 total meetings, including four in the playoffs, Pittsburgh leads by a small margin, just 25-21-0.
Despite being a young rivalry, the Steelers/Ravens is definitely one that has all eyes glued to the TV when they meet. This Sunday will be no different especially given that first place in the AFC North will be decided by whoever emerges from M&T Bank Stadium the winner.
Pittsburgh opened their season against the Cleveland Browns, which back in the 70s would have actually been considered a tough rivalry game in its own right. But ever since the 2000s, the Browns have been close to the laughing stock of the league. Because of that, this game was supposed to be a lay-up for Pittsburgh, even though they were on the road. However, the game itself was anything but easy and in fact, was even quite dicey at times. The final score was 21-18. Pittsburgh threw for 263 yards, all but 81 of which went to Antonio Brown. The real glaring box score note was in the running game. Lead back Leveon Bell recorded just 32 yards on 10 carries and the team as a whole combined for just 35 yards rushing.
Week two was much more straightforward as the Steelers hosted their home opener against the Minnesota Vikings. At home at Heinz Field, the Steelers defeated the Vikings by a final of 26-9. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns and the running game started to get back on track with Bell recording 87 yards on 27 carries. It was a much better game for Pittsburgh defensively as well, which is really the backbone of the team’s success.
The Steelers returned to the road to take on the Chicago Bears in the less than friendly confines of Soldier Field. The Steelers once again struggled to get anything going offensively with the running game taking a step back. Brown caught 10 passes for over 110 yards, which is more than the 101 the Steelers held Bears’ QB Mike Glennon to. Pittsburgh’s defense also got an interception. The biggest problem was their run defense was non-existent as Chicago ran all over them, totaling 218 yards on the ground, including 140 from lead back, Jordan Howard, who also had two rushing touchdowns. Ultimately, the Steelers lost in overtime 23-17.
Unlike the Steelers, the Ravens came out of the gate looking absolutely dominant, both offensively and defensively. Over their first two games, the Ravens held opponents to 10 total points, including a rare shut-out against the Cincinnati Bengals, while scoring 44 points of their own. It was the best scoring margin in all of the NFL.
But then, in one fell swoop, the wheels fell off for Baltimore. As the team headed across the pond to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars, something was clearly off for the Ravens. Jacksonville led out of the gate, scoring the first 23 points and going into halftime with a 23-0 lead. Baltimore’s defense, which had looked so strong over the first two weeks, essentially fell apart. The Jaguars continued to put down the gas pedal, scoring another 21 unanswered points to take an insurmountable and embarrassing 44-0 lead just a few minutes into the fourth quarter. Baltimore narrowly avoided being shut out themselves, scoring a meaningless touchdown with just over three minutes left in the game.
It was a disaster of a game and one that the Ravens will hope to put behind them. They will have a great opportunity at home but Pittsburgh will also have a game plan. Baltimore did nothing right against the Jaguars, totaling only 186 yards on offense with three turnovers. They can’t afford the same result on Sunday against the Steelers.
Our Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens Preview’s Betting Picks & Predictions
If not for Sunday’s absolute shocker, the Ravens likely would have entered this one as home favorites rather than underdogs. It’s an unfamiliar role for the team for sure, but Baltimore has had great success at M&T Bank Stadium, winning their last six and going 5-1 against the spread in the same frame. They are also 4-1 SU and 3-0 ATS in their last five games against Pittsburgh and 10-1 ATS in their last 11 against AFC North opponents.
Each of the last four games between these two teams has been decided by a touchdown or less. Both are coming off tough and disappointing losses but they always play their best against each other. Taking last week as an outlier, the Ravens have looked like the better team this year.
So for that reason here are our Steelers vs Ravens betting predictions and picks, looking at the best options available from the top rated USA online sports betting websites:
- Take the Ravens to overcome their underdog status by defeating the Steelers. Back Baltimore on the moneyline at +140 odds with Bovada, 5Dimes or MyBookie.
- The total is set at 42 or 42.5 points and since the under has gone 12-2 in the last 14 games Pittsburgh has played in the early afternoon, take the under 42.5pts @ -110 with 5Dimes. It is under 42pts with the other firms.
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.