NFL Thursday Night Football Picks: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
Heinz Field – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Thursday, October 1, 2015, 8:25 pm Eastern, TV: CBS, NFL Network
Opening Line: Baltimore -2 1/2
Current Line: Baltimore -2 1/2 (-115)
Opening Total: 43 1/2
Current Total: 43 1/2
Opening Money Line: Ravens -150 / Steelers +130
Current Money Line: Ravens -140 / Steelers +120

Pittsburgh hosts Baltimore Thursday night in a battle of arch-rivals.

Pittsburgh hosts Baltimore Thursday night in a battle of arch-rivals.

The Baltimore Ravens are one of four teams to start the season 0-3 in 2015 along with The Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints. The Ravens are desperate for a win but it doesn’t get any easier as they travel to the arch-rival Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday night. The Steelers are 2-1 this season. Both teams are looking up at the 3-0 Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North standings.

Pittsburgh leads the series 24-18 against Baltimore. The Ravens have won 6 of the last 9 and 3 of 4 against the Steelers. All three meetings last year were decided by 13 points or more, in contrast to the close games these two teams have played in recent years. The Ravens won at home 26-6 and the Steelers won 43-23 at home. Baltimore won the rubber match 30-17 in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs in Pittsburgh.

Baltimore is coached by John Harbaugh. Baltimore lost at the Denver Broncos 19-13 and Oakland Raiders 37-33. Last week, Baltimore hosted Cincinnati in the home opener for the Ravens. Cincinnati took a 14-0 lead into halftime, but Baltimore would rally to take leads of 17-14 and 24-21. The Ravens took the 24-21 lead with just under four minutes left. It took the Bengals less than 2 minutes to drive 80 yards down the field for the go ahead touchdown. Baltimore had one last chance but a 15 yard facemask penalty on third and 3 effectively ended the game. Baltimore was unable to convert on fourth and 17 from their own 13 and the Bengals took a knee to run out the clock. Baltimore was a 2.5 point favorite and the total was 45.5. The Ravens are 0-3 ATS and the total is 2-1 this season.

Pittsburgh is coached by Mike Tomlin. After a 28-21 loss at the New England Patriots in the regular season opener, Pittsburgh beat the San Francisco 49ers 43-18 at home. Last week, Pittsburgh won on the road at the St. Louis Rams 12-6. The start of the game was delayed by roughly 15 minutes as a pyrotechnic display during the Rams’ player introductions set part of the field on fire. The Steelers scored the first 9 points of the game on a field goal and a touchdown. The Steelers missed the two point conversion. St. Louis kicked a field goal late in the second to make the score 9-3 at halftime.

In the second half, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was carted off the field after what appeared to be an illegal hit below the knees. No flag was thrown. Roethlisberger is out 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL and bone bruise. Michael Vick came on in place of Big Ben and will start until Roethlisberger comes back. Each team could only manage a field goal in the second half as Pittsburgh held on for the 6 point win. The Steelers were 1.5 point underdogs and the total was 48.5. Pittsburgh is 3-0 ATS and the total is 1-2 this season.

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Baltimore is being outscored 28-23 this season. Baltimore is #26 in points allowed.  The Ravens average 355 total yards including 282 passing and 73 rushing yards. Baltimore is #8 in passing and #27 in rushing. On defense, Baltimore is allowing 375 yards per game including 291 passing and 84 rushing yards. The Ravens are 18/46 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 26/49. Baltimore has forced 7 sacks and allowed 2 this season. Baltimore is -1 in turnovers. The Ravens have two defensive touchdowns and have allowed one this season.

Quarterback Joe Flacco has completed 65.1% of his passes for 863 yards with 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Running back Justin Forsett has 39 carries for 124 yards, along with 12 catches for 41 yards. Javorius Allen has 13 carries for 47 yards, along with 2 catches. Lorenzo Taliaferro has 10 carries for 34 yards and a touchdown, along with 4 catches.

Receiver Steve Smith, Sr. has 25 catches for 349 yards and two touchdowns. Crockett Gilmore has 10 catches for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns. Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown and Kyle Juszczyk will also get some targets. Tight ends Allen Reisner and Dennis Pitta are both on injured reserve.  Six defensive players are listed on the injury report, including star linebacker Terrell Suggs who is out for the season with a torn Achilles’ tendon.

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Pittsburgh is outscoring teams 25-17 this season. The Steelers are #6 in points allowed. Pittsburgh is averaging 392 yards per game on offense including 299 passing and 93 rushing yards. The Steelers are in the top 5 in both passing and total offense. On defense, Pittsburgh is allowing 343 total yards per game including 255 passing and 87 rushing yards. The Steelers are #9 in pass defense. Pittsburgh is 21/39 on third and fourth down conversions. Opponents are 19/45. Pittsburgh has forced 9 sacks and allowed 8 this year. The Steelers are even in turnovers.

Roethlisberger had completed 75.3% of his passes for 912 yards with 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions before the injury. Vick came in and completed 5 of 6 passes for 38 yards against the Rams. It isn’t really clear how much Vick has left in the tank after a nearly 13 year NFL career.  Landry Jones will serve as the back-up to Vick.

Running back DeAngelo Williams has 42 carries for 206 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 5 catches for 20 yards. Le’Veon Bell return from a two game suspension last week. He had 19 carries for 62 yards and a touchdown along with 7 catches for 70 yards. Receiver Antonio Brown has 29 catches for 436 yards and 2 touchdowns. Darrius Heyward-Bey has 11 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown. Markus Wheaton has 7 catches for 138 yards. Tight end Heath Miller has 12 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Martavis Bryant is serving the last game of a four game suspension and will return next week. Leading tackler linebacker Ryan Shazier is questionable with a shoulder injury.

Baltimore is 4-0 ATS against teams with winning home records, 14-5 against teams with winning records, 7-3 after allowing 250 passing yards or more, 2-6 in Thursday games, overall and against AFC teams, 2-5 after rushing for less than 90 yards, 3-9 in October, 1-4 after an ATS loss, and after allowing 90 rushing yards or less, 1-4-1 against AFC North teams, 2-10-1 after allowing 350 yards or more and 0-4 after a straight up loss.

Pittsburgh is 4-0 ATS after allowing less than 90 rushing yards, 7-1 overall, 5-1 after a cover, 4-1 after a straight up win, after rushing for 90 yards or less and against AFC teams, 7-2 against teams with losing road records and in October, 6-2 at home, 2-5 against teams with losing records, and 0-4 in week 4. The over is 11-4-2 in Pittsburgh in this series.

Baltimore is surprisingly a road favorite mainly because Roethlisberger is out. Still, I think Pittsburgh is simply better team and I think the Steelers win this game outright in a low scoring game.

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Posted by on Sep 29 2015. Filed under Headlines, NFL. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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