Last updated December 22nd, 2013
As part of the NFL’s new “extra helping of football,” this year’s Thanksgiving night game on NBC, is sure to be a classic as the rivalry between the (5-6) Pittsburgh Steelers and (5-6) Baltimore Ravens embarks on its latest chapter (Thursday, 8:30 PM).
M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore will play host as two of the AFC North’s teams battle it out to stay alive in the wildcard race.
Baltimore Should be Thankful Running Game Hasn’t Killed Them
There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. The Ravens have had absolutely zero running game in 2013.
Ray Rice (pictured), the team’s leading rusher, is having his worst year on the ground since his rookie season in 2008. With just five weeks left and averaging just 45 yards a game, the 26-year-old back is on pace to finish under 700 rushing yards. Keep in mind this is a guy who just last season, in a Super Bowl winning campaign, finished with over 1,100 yards including seven games in which he tallied 90 or more. This season, he has only reached that mark once.
Rice is a shell of himself and backup Bernard Pierce and fullback Vontae Leach haven’t been much help either. The Ravens are the sixth worst team rushing the football.
Rice’s poor running has also taken away options for Joe Flacco in the passing game. Teams haven’t had to focus so much on stopping the run and like the Steelers will do on Thursday, will have all eyes on the pass. Pittsburgh’s 10th ranked passing defense is sure to give Flacco, who has struggled all season against top 10 pass defenses, some trouble.
Pittsburgh Should be Thankful for Recent Success After 0-4 Start
Things looked bleak in the Steel City after the 0-4 start but like the resilient team most know the Steelers to be, they fought back from the brink of disaster and now sit in position to claim one of the AFC’s wildcard spots.
A big reason for Pittsburgh’s turnaround is Roethlisberger, who has topped 350 yards four times this season. Antonio Brown has also been huge as of late, recording 90+ receiving yards in Pittsburgh’s current three game winning streak.
The Ravens’ 11th ranked pass defense will have its hands full with Brown and, as they have shown this season, are susceptible to giving up big days to top receivers. However, the team did hold Brown to just 50 yards when the two faced each other earlier this season.
The problem for Baltimore is that the Steelers have that dual threat. The Ravens did hold Brown to 50, but they allowed rookie Le’Veon Bell to rush for 93 yards in a game Baltimore lost by three.
Steelers at Ravens Betting Picks Verdict
Entering this game, both teams are pretty evenly matched and both have plenty to play for. Baltimore is favored by three at home and the over/under is just 40.5.
- My advice (6-6 ATS and 7-5 over/under on the season) is to take the Steelers +3pts @ -115 odds with BetOnline Sportsbook (it is -120 for the same spread with Bovada).
- You’ve got two hot offenses that are scoring a lot of points so I recommend the over 40.5 total points with BetOnline as well.
RESULT UPDATE: Ravens won 22-20 (so both advised bets WON)
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB & 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.