Baltimore Ravens (3-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4)
I’ll admit I was pretty surprised when I saw the Steelers were favorites by 1.5 points here against the Ravens, which essentially suggests these two teams are even. However, it just seems like the odds makers think the Steelers are significantly better than their record. They were right about it last week, as the Steelers ended up being 1 point favorites in New York against the Jets despite being 0-4 and ended up winning. I can definitely understand the arguments in favor of the Steelers being underrated by the public.
They are healthier now offensively thanks to the returns of Heath Miller and Le’Veon Bell, who function as a reliable safety value and a talented running back respectively, two things the Steelers were sorely lacking to start the season. Defensively, they are still playing at an elite level, allowing 88 first downs to 29 punts and their -9 turnover margin probably isn’t indicative of what their turnover margin will be in the future. That type of thing is very random and unpredictable and largely the result of the Steelers’ 23.08% fumble recovery rate, which won’t continue going forward. Their defense is also too talented not to force takeaways. They forced their first 2 of the season against the Jets last week, after being kept out of that category during the first 4 weeks and I expect them to continue forcing turnovers at a reasonable rate.
Meanwhile, the Ravens are not the same team on the road, going 1-2 on the road this year, including a loss in Buffalo and a blowout loss in Denver. Since 2010, they are outscoring opponents by about 11 points per game at home and 1 point per game on the road. I don’t want to disagree with the odds makers on this one when their line is easily defendable, even though I was surprised by it. The public seems to be falling into their trap and taking the Ravens at a high rate. I love an opportunity to pick against a publicly backed underdog whenever it makes sense, but it’s not going to be a huge play.
Pittsburgh Steelers 17 Baltimore Ravens 13
Pick against spread: Pittsburgh -1.5