Pittsburgh at Baltimore
Time: NOON CT
Spread: BAL -3
Odds c/o Bovada
The Baltimore Ravens have lost two straight to fall to 4-4 on the season. It will welcome Pittsburgh this week as 3-point favorites at Noon (CT) on CBS. The over/under is set at 47 points according to NFL oddsmakers at Bovada.
Baltimore’s typically stingy defense has been weak the last two outings. It surrendered 24 points to Pittsburgh, and worse still, gave up 36 to the Carolina Panthers. It still ranks atop the NFL on the season, allowing 17.1 points, but the Ravens are not offensively loaded enough to allow its defense to continually fall short. Baltimore averages just 24.6 points per game, and it has not scored more than 27 points since its season opener when it defeated Buffalo 47-3.
Joe Flacco still guides a No. 8 ranked pass offense which generates 282.6 yards per game. The Rush has been far less effective, generating just 96.6 yards per game and ranking No. 24. Flacco has been, for his part, the accurate veteran he has been most of his career. He has thrown for 2,259 yards on the season (274.3 per game) while having thrown 12 TD passes and just six interceptions. Flacco has incurred 14 sacks in eight games, for a total loss of 65 yards, but his passer rating is still a respectable 84.9.
The backfield has experienced little success, but Lamar Jackson has been a bright spot as a running back. The dual-threat quarterback from Louisville has thrown just 11 passes all year, but he has rushed 23 times for 129 yards and leads the team in yards per attempt at 5.6. Lead back Alex Collins manages just 3.7 yards-per-carry on his 98 attempts, and Javorius Allen is good for just 2.6 yards-per-attempt on his second-most 38 carries.
Flacco, too, has been a disaster out of the pocket with just 45 yards on 19 carries, though he has managed 10 first downs on those attempts. Flacco’s top receiver John Brown has caught 31 of 61 targeted passes for 586 yards and a team-leading four touchdowns. The Ravens have scored just 10 rushing TDs all year, but have 13 via the pass, the bread and butter of its offense. Eventually, one would assume more handoffs are given to Jackson, but until that happens the Ravens are just not much of a threat on the ground.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are 4-2-1 and lead the AFC North. This week it finds itself 3-point underdogs, but it has won its past three games, with victories over Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Cleveland (who it tied in the opener this year). Pittsburgh has been stellar with its pass offense, ranking No. 2 at 318.1 yards per game. Like its opponent this week, the rush lingers far behind at just 100.0 yards per game (no. 22). Even so, Pitt generates 28.9 points per game, which is good for a +4.3 differential considering it has a middle-of-the-pack defense responsible for surrendering 24.6 points per game.
Ben Roethlisberger has been his usual self. He has 2,290 yards on the season and a 14-to-7 TD/INT ratio. He has been sacked just 10 times through seven games, but he has lost 63 yards on those plays. His passer rating of 94.5 is better than Flacco’s, but it is still a little shy of elite territory. JuJu Smith-Schuster has been the No. 1 passing target with 594 yards and two TDs, but Antonio Brown is the end zone target with his eight touchdowns and 552 total yards.
Second-year man James Connor is still a fan favorite as the No. 3 pass option with 323 yards, but he has yet to score a touchdown this season. The Steelers use Connor out of the backfield, of course, where he averages 4.7 yards-per-carry on his 127 attempts. He has scored nine rushing TDs, and Roethlisberger has the only other rushing TD on the team. The Steelers have 10 rushing TDs and 14 via the pass, so this game is really a matchup between two very similar teams. Pittsburgh has been the hotter team, but Baltimore has home field advantage in this one.