AFC Divisional Playoffs
Baltimore Ravens (5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2), Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Saturday, January 15, 2011, 4:30 pm EST, TV: CBS
Opening Line: Steelers -3.5
Current Line: Steelers -3
Opening Total: 37
Current Total: 37
Money Line: Steelers -175 / Ravens +155
The Baltimore Ravens (13-4) have figured out a way to beat most of the great quarterbacks in the NFL lately, but they will try to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) with Ben Roethlisberger under center for the first time in seven tries on Saturday when they meet in the AFC divisional playoffs. Roethlisberger’s Steelers (-3) are 8-2 all-time against the Ravens, who have only beaten AFC North rival Pittsburgh recently when Charlie Batch or Dennis Dixon have started in his place.
Batch started the first meeting with Baltimore back in Week 4 due to Roethlisberger’s four-game suspension for breaking the NFL’s personal conduct policy, which resulted in a 17-14 loss. Roethlisberger was back for the rematch in Week 13 and pulled out a 13-10 victory for Pittsburgh despite suffering a broken nose early in the game. He benefit from the Steelers playing outstanding defense, led by All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu.
Polamalu made his case for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award by stripping Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in the final minutes, which Roethlisberger converted into the game-winning touchdown on a 9-yard pass to running back Isaac Redman with 2:51 remaining. That enabled Pittsburgh to win for the sixth straight time in the series when Roethlisberger starts.
These divisional foes also battled it out in the AFC championship game two years ago with Polamalu returning a Flacco interception 40 yards for a game-clinching touchdown in a 23-14 victory. Polamalu has been nursing a sore Achilles’ tendon and sat out two of the team’s last three games in preparation for the playoffs.
Baltimore is perfectly capable of breaking through this time around though, bringing a 7-3 all-time postseason road record into the third meeting between the teams this year. The Ravens annihilated Kansas City 31-7 last Sunday behind a dominant defensive performance of their own. They had three sacks of Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel, who was also picked off three times and completed 9 of 18 passes for only 70 yards.
Offensively, Baltimore got a solid performance from Flacco against Kansas City and will likely need another one to get back to the AFC championship. He completed 25 of 34 passes for 265 yards with two touchdowns and earned perhaps his signature victory in the first meeting at Pittsburgh earlier this season, beating his hometown team by throwing a game-winning 18-yard scoring strike to wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh with 32 seconds left.
The Steelers are 8-0 against the spread in their last eight January games, and the OVER is 9-1 in their past 10 home playoff games. The OVER is also 6-3-1 in the last 10 meetings, although the total has gone UNDER in the past two games between the teams.
Now that you have read this AFC playoff football betting preview featuring the Steelers & Ravens, check out the NFL odds on this and all the games to compare the best lines at multiple sportsbooks.