Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) at Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
The Ravens won their first 2 games by final scores of 20-0 and 24-10, but they got destroyed last week in London 44-7 by the Jaguars. Many people are chalking that up to the Ravens being unprepared to play in London, but there are several bigger reasons why they lost. For one, they were facing their toughest opponent yet, as the Jaguars are better than both the Bengals and the Browns, who the Ravens defeated in weeks 1 and 2. Their schedule unfortunately does not get any easier this week. They return home, but will host the Steelers, who are definitely better than the Bengals, Browns, and Ravens.
The second reason is injuries, as the Ravens were without their top offensive lineman Marshal Yanda and their top defensive tackle Brandon Williams, both of whom remain out this week. The Ravens had injury issues even before those two went down (Danny Woodhead, Alex Lewis, Dennis Pitta, etc), but those two are huge losses and their absences will be felt again this week. The third reason is turnover margin, as the Ravens were a league best +7 through the first 2 weeks of the season, but then lost the turnover battle by 3 against the Jaguars. Turnover margins tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, so, while the Ravens might not necessarily lose the turnover battle again this week like last week, it’s unreasonable to expect them to continue winning the turnover battle the way they did in their first 2 games, especially with injured players and the schedule getting tougher.
As a result of the Ravens’ loss last week, this line has moved from even to the Steelers being favored by a field goal, even though the Steelers blew a winnable game in Chicago last week. I typically like to go against significant week-to-week line movements, but I have this line calculated at -4 given all of the players the Ravens are missing, so we’re still getting a little bit of value with the Steelers. Teams tend to cover off of blowout losses, going 54-28 ATS since 2002 off of a loss of 35+ or more (17-8 ATS since 2012), as teams tend to be overlooked, undervalued, and embarrassed after a huge loss, so I can’t be confident in the Steelers, especially given how heavily the public is betting them, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.
Pittsburgh Steelers 24 Baltimore Ravens 20
Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh -3