Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) at Baltimore Ravens (4-10)
The Steelers are in a great spot here. While the Ravens head to Cincinnati to play the Ravens next week, the Steelers go to Cleveland to face the Browns, a far easier opponent. The early lines have the Ravens as 10 point underdogs next week, while the Steelers are 9.5 point favorites. Favorites of 6+ are 83-43 ATS since 2012 before being favorites of 6+ again, as superior teams tend to take care of business and win by a big margin when they don’t have any upcoming distractions.
On the other side, underdogs of 6+ are 42-70 ATS since 2012 before being 6+ underdogs again, for the opposite reasons. Combining the two, favorites of 6+ are 56-34 ATS since 2008 before being favorites of 6+ again, when their opponent will next be 6+ point underdogs again. On top of that, teams are 56-99 ATS before being double digit underdogs since 2010, and 49-27 ATS before being road favorites of 7+, over that same time period. With two tough divisional games in a two weeks span, the Ravens could easily have trouble covering against a Steelers team that has two easy divisional games in a two week span.
There are three reasons why I’m not confident in the Steelers though. The first is that the Ravens are in kind of a good spot as well, as home underdogs off of a loss as home underdogs are 76-53 ATS since 2002 and the Ravens lost as home underdogs against the Chiefs last week. The second is that the public is all over the Steelers and I hate going with sides that are heavily backed by the public, as the public always loses money in the long run. The third is that this line might be too high at 10.5.
There wasn’t a line last week because we didn’t know who would be starting at quarterback for the Ravens (and frankly we still don’t, but any differences between Ryan Mallett, Matt Schaub, and Jimmy Clausen in terms of their ability to lead this offense are negligible), but if there was, it probably would have required a significant line movement to get us to this 10.5 point line and I love fading significant line movements whenever it makes sense, as they tend to be overreactions to a single week of play.
The Ravens rank 28th in rate of moving the chains differential, while the Steelers rank 8th. The Steelers are even better than that suggests, as they’ve moved the chains at a 75.87% rate in the 10 games where Ben Roethlisberger plays, as opposed to 63.64% in the 4 games where he hasn’t. The Ravens, meanwhile, are worse than their rank suggests, as the amount of key players the Ravens have lost for the season have really piled up as the season has gone on.
They’ve lost wide receiver Breshad Perriman, wide receiver Steve Smith, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, center Jeremy Zuttah, offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Justin Forsett, and tight end Crockett Gillmore for the season with injury. In the 4 games since losing Flacco and Forsett, they’ve moved the chains at a 65.00% rate, as opposed to 68.37% in their previous 10 games. It’s still hard to see how we get a line of 10.5 though, as there are only about 4 or 5 games per year in which a team is favored by double digits on the road. I’m going with the Steelers still because they’re in such a great spot and have shown the ability to score at will in recent weeks, but this is a no confidence pick.
Pittsburgh Steelers 24 Baltimore Ravens 13
Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh -10.5