The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens will square off in an intriguing Week 2 AFC North divisional battle that looks more like a near-lock selection than the knock-down, drag-out battle that it usually is thanks to some recent ‘drama’ from one participant in this battle.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Matchup: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
Spread: Ravens -2.5 -125
Kickoff: Thursday Sept 11th, 8:25 PM ET
With the two playoff hopefuls set to renew their longstanding hostilities on Thursday at M&T Bank Stadium, let’s get the ball rolling with my against the spread betting pick. Click here for more Thursday Night Football odds.
Thursday Night Football Spread Pick – Steelers vs. Ravens
Preview: Baltimore (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS, 0-1 O/U) was on the wrong end of a 23-16 Week 1 loss to Cincinnati and never came close to covering the spread as a 1-point home favorite while the game’s final score played Under the 39-point O/U Total.
Pittsburgh (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS, 1-0 O/U) beat the Cleveland Browns 30-27 in their Week 1 AFC North divisional battle, but they almost blew a huge 27-3 halftime lead, so I suspect they’re not very happy coming into this contest. The Steelers failed to cover the NFL betting line as a 5.5-point home favorite while the game’s 57 combined points played well over the 41.5-point O/U Total.
Now, I normally would have picked the Baltimore Ravens to win this divisional battle, simply because they’re playing at home in a contest between two evenly matched teams.
However, the Ravens were dealt a huge blow on Monday as the tape of starting running back Ray Rice assaulting his girlfriend was released to the public.
Now, thanks to the huge – and unanimously unpopular – uproar created by Rice’s situation, Baltimore is looking at a huge disadvantage heading into this matchup.
Even with Rice on the field last week, the Ravens struggled mightily to move the ball against a Bengals team that is favored to win the AFC North.
Starting quarterback Joe Flacco completed a pitiful 56.5 percent of his passes and Baltimore’s rushing attack was limited to a paltry 91 yards. Baltimore was shut out for almost three full quarters and went just 8-17 on third down attempts.
Now, the Ravens have released Rice and the NFL has banned him indefinitely, outing the Ravens in a real bind. Veteran, Justin Forsett will likely start for the Ravens in Rice’s absence.
Everyone from current and former NFL stars to celebrities with no sports ties whatsoever are commenting on Rice – and it’s not flattering to say the least.
.@nflcommish your punishment for beating a woman is less than for smoking weed. Get your head out of your fucking ass.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) September 8, 2014
Despite all of the nationality surround Rice’s situation, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin said his team’s focus is on winning this divisional battle.
"We are excited about going to Baltimore and playing the first division road game," Tomlin told reporters this week. "They are Baltimore and we are Pittsburgh. We understand what that means.
Mike Tomlin aware of Ray Rice video, refuses to speak about it at press conference http://t.co/Fbr5J7oWAo
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 8, 2014
Tomlin also said his tem will be prepared to face a Baltimore team that could already be in ‘desperation mode; even after one game.
"We’re going to be excited; not concerned about the short week. It’s week two in this season and we are going into a hostile environment," Tomlin said. "I am sure there is going to be a lot of excitement associated with that, prime time. I look forward to the challenge and getting to know our team as hopefully we push through it."
Despite their second half struggles against the Browns, Pittsburgh got a fantastic performance from young running back Le’Veon Bell after watching the powerful back rush for 109 yards and one score while adding six receptions for 88 yards.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 9, 2014
"We are not surprised by that," said Tomlin of Bell’s performance. "That was an element of his game that was attractive to us a couple of years ago when we drafted him. I think he caught 38 or 40 balls his last year at Michigan State. Le’Veon thinks he can do anything on the football field. I agree with him."
Pittsburgh has gone 7-2 ATS in its last nine games and an impressive 4-2 ATS in its last six road games.
Baltimore may be 20-5 SU in their L/25 home contests, but the Ravens are also just 1-5 ATS in its last six games overall and a discouraging 1-4 ATS in its last five home games
Thanks to Ray Rice’s humiliating situation – and Baltimore’s failure to address it properly – the Ravens are looking at a lot of trouble as they get set to host Pittsburgh. In the end, I like the Steelers to get a huge road win and accompanying ATS cover.