Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3)
Sun. 9/30, 8:20 p.m. ET
Three things you need to know before betting on Baltimore-Pittsburgh:
1. Bettors should always be leery of a team coming off a Monday night game, especially when that team is coming off a short week after having played on the road. Pittsburgh was outgained by Tampa Bay in the Steelers’ 30-27 win, and Pittsburgh nearly blew a 20-point halftime lead after failing to score in the second half. Teams playing on a Sunday after having been on the road the previous Monday night went 5-11 straight up and 4-12 against the spread last season, with three of those four teams that won and covered doing so against weak opponents the following Sunday: 1) The Vikings came off a Monday night game in Chicago to beat a Green Bay squad that lost Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone in the first quarter; 2) The Lions followed up a Monday night game in Chicago with a Week 10 comeback victory over a Browns team that at one point had held its first double-digit lead of the season; and 3) The Falcons came off a Monday game in Seattle with a win over a Buccaneers team that would end the season with a 5-11 record. The fourth Sunday win and cover by a team coming off a Monday road game was the Patriots, who had rested several starters in what was a relatively meaningless Week 14 game in Miami, winning by three as a 2.5-point road favorite in Pittsburgh in a game that flipped on a controversial overturning of what had first been deemed a Jesse James game-winning touchdown reception. The lone team that won straight up but failed to cover the spread was Pittsburgh, which beat Baltimore 39-38 as a six-point home favorite after having played in relatively nearby Cincinnati the previous Monday.
2. The Steelers and Ravens have attempted the most passes in the AFC with Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger airing it out 139 times and Baltimore's Joe Flacco throwing 129 passes over the season’s first three games. While Roethlisberger has been more efficient with his throws, the Ravens clearly have the superior pass defense in this matchup. No NFL team has allowed fewer yards per pass attempt (5.1) than Baltimore, and the Ravens rank second behind only Detroit in passing yards allowed (169 yards per game). Pittsburgh, meanwhile, ranks 28th in the league in passing yards allowed despite the fact that one of Pittsburgh’s three games has come against Cleveland’s Tyrod Taylor in rain and relatively high winds.
3. Baltimore is 5-1-1 against the spread over the past seven matchups in this rivalry, a mark that includes a 3-0-1 ATS record over the past four games these teams have played at Heinz Field. The Steelers are 0-6 ATS in their past six home games dating back to mid-November, losing three of those games outright. The Ravens, meanwhile, are 16-8 ATS as an underdog of three points or fewer since John Harbaugh took over as the team’s head coach prior to the 2008 season.
Pick: Baltimore +3
Confidence Level: High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)