NFL Predictions: Steelers at Ravens Odds for Week 13
by Alan Matthews - 11/26/2013
It's probably the best day of football every year in the regular season now that there are three games on Thanksgiving -- although I am usually fast asleep by the time the night game starts after consuming more calories in one day than in a normal week. So while you have the usual games in Detroit and Dallas this year, the 8:30 p.m. ET game is a very intriguing one with Pittsburgh visiting Baltimore.
These long-time physical rivals are both 5-6, so a loss would be devastating in the wild-card race. I don't think either will catch Cincinnati (7-4) for the AFC North title, and there's only going to be one wild-card spot available with the AFC West runner-up claiming the No. 5 seed. Currently, fellow 5-6 team Tennessee holds down the final spot, with the Steelers No. 7 and Ravens No. 8. The Titans beat Pittsburgh in Week 1, so that could be a crucial head-to-head tiebreaker. They won't face the Ravens. Tennessee also beat 5-6 teams San Diego and the Jets so would hold tiebreakers over them. The Steelers are ahead of Baltimore because of their Week 7 19-16 victory against the Ravens. So needless to say, a victory Sunday night would clinch the head-to-head tiebreaker there. Baltimore does hold head-to-head tiebreakers with the Dolphins and Jets.
The remaining schedules seem to favor Pittsburgh. The Titans finish at Indianapolis, at Denver, vs. Arizona, at Jacksonville and vs. Houston. I see at least two losses and the way the Cardinals are playing maybe three. After this week Pittsburgh is vs. Miami, vs. Cincinnati, at Green Bay and vs. Cleveland. No reason the Steelers can't sweep those home games. Baltimore is vs. Minnesota, at Detroit, vs. New England and at Cincinnati. The Ravens have never missed the playoffs under John Harbaugh.
Steelers at Ravens Betting Story Lines
Baltimore is looking for its first two-game winning streak since Week 2-3. The Raves had played seven straight games decided by six points or less, going 2-5, before shutting down the Jets 19-3 on Sunday. The Ravens made Jets rookie QB Geno Smith look terrible as New York totaled 220 yards, the lowest this season against Baltimore, and one third-down conversion. Baltimore wasn't exactly great offensively, either, totaling 312 yards and three third-down conversions. The Ravens' best offensive player right now is kicker Justin Tucker, who had four field goals against the Jets and has made 22 straight.
Baltimore won the Super Bowl last year in large part because Flacco is one of the best deep passers in the NFL. That hadn't been the case this year, but he was 2-of-3 for 126 yards on passes deeper than 30 yards downfield against the Jets. Jacoby Jones caught a 66-yard score, Flacco's first TD pass of more than 20 yards. He had been 4-of-17 with an interception on throws of at least 30 yards in 2013.
Pittsburgh has won three straight, all by double-digits, after getting defensively embarrassed in a 55-31 loss in New England on Nov. 3. The Steelers had little trouble beating Cleveland on Sunday, 27-11, with the only Browns touchdown a garbage score with around three minutes left. Ben Roethlisberger continued to play his best football of the year, completing 22-of-34 for 217 yards, two TDs and no picks. He has seven TDs and one interception in the winning streak. Big Ben has been sacked just once in the past two weeks, and the Steelers are +7 in the turnover department over that stretch.
The Steelers did lose a key player to injury in that win. Run-stuffing nose tackle Steve McLendon hurt his ankle and will miss at least a few weeks. Two other defensive starters missed the game: end Brett Keisel (foot) and outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (calf). They haven't been ruled out Thursday as of this writing.
Steelers at Ravens Week 13 NFL Betting Odds and Trends
At WagerWeb, Baltimore is a three-point favorite with a total of 40.5. The Steelers are 5-6 ATS (2-4 on road) and 4-7 “over/under” (2-4 on road). The Ravens are 6-5 ATS (4-1 at home) and 4-7 O/U (0-5 at home). Pittsburgh is 4-9 ATS in its past 13 against teams with a losing record. It is 1-4 ATS in its past five Thursday games. Baltimore has failed to cover just one of its past 10 November games. It is 1-5 ATS in its past six Thursday matchups. The under is 9-1 in Pittsburgh's past 10 against the AFC. The under is 8-2 in Baltimore's past 10 against teams with a losing record. Pittsburgh has covered four of its past five in Baltimore.
NFL Predictions: Steelers at Ravens Betting Picks for Week 13
Pittsburgh is looking for its first sweep of Baltimore since 2008. Expect a three-point win for either side here as the past four have ended that way. Back on Oct. 20, Shaun Suisham won it with a 42-yard field goal as time expired. That game was all defense, with both teams held under 290 yards. Pittsburgh never trailed after taking a 7-0 lead at 5:24 of the first on a Roethlisberger to Heath Miller three-yard scoring pass. Baltimore finally tied it with 1:58 left in the game on a Dallas Clark one-yard TD catch.
The Ravens have one home loss all season, and that was a close one to Green Bay. The Steelers' only two road wins are over pretty bad teams, the Jets and Browns. Neither of these teams can rush the ball, so it will come down to the quarterbacks. I lean toward Flacco in his home stadium. It will be plenty cold, mid 20s, but no precipitation is in the forecast. Sounds like a typical smash-mouth defensive struggle to me. Take Baltimore and the under. It probably will be a push, so if the line moves up to 3.5, I'd lean Pittsburgh.
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