The Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers will take the field in an all-important AFC North showdown Wednesday at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, beginning at 3:40 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The public has really backed the Pittsburgh Steelers as they are currently ten point favorites, which is up from 2.5 at the opening. On the other hand, the total stands at 40.5 points, which is down from 46 points.
After a stellar beginning to the season when the Ravens racked up a 5-1 record, the team has since dropped three of their last four games, including a home loss versus the Tennessee Titans last weekend as six-point favorites. Important to note that the Ravens are 0-4 against the number in their last four games as favorites. Baltimore has dropped to third place within the AFC North as they were leapfrogged by a Cleveland Browns team that has been on a roll lately . On the other hand, the Pittsburgh Steelers not only kept their undefeated season intact by destroying the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road last weekend, but also covering as 11 point favorites. In fact, the Steelers have covered in all but two games this season and will be looking to cover for the third straight game where they take the field Thursday night.
Pittsburgh has covered in three of their last four times when playing the Ravens, including picking up a four point win outright earlier this season as four point underdogs. Interestingly enough, the Ravens racked up over 450 total yards on the Steelers in this contest compared to just over 200 total yards for the Steelers; However, the Steelers were able to sack Jackson a total of four times while also recording two huge fumbles during the contest. Furthermore, Jackson was miserable from within the pocket as he went 13-28 for the contest for two touchdowns along with two interceptions. Jackson will be missing this game and getting the start is RG3.
Ravens struggling defensively at this pointOf course, the Ravens have gained a reputation for being a hard-nosed defensive team; However, the loss of defensive lineman Calais Campbell has really been huge for the rush defense for Baltimore as the team allowed 170 plus yards in each of their last two contests. Tennessee not only was able to rack up 173 yards on the Ravens defense last weekend, but also received a huge performance from running back Derrick Henry, who posted 133 rushing yards on 28 attempts along with the game-winning touchdown run in overtime.
To make matters worse for Baltimore, they may be without defensive tackle Brandon Williams for this contest as he is questionable with an ankle injury while cornerback Terrell Bonds is already out indefinitely with a knee injury. Things will certainly not get any easier versus a Pittsburgh Steeler team that is ranked middle of the road in both passing and rushing in 2020, yet is averaging just under 30 points per game. Important to note that the Steelers have only turned the ball over nine times this season, good for third in the NFL. Baltimore, on the other hand, has racked up 17 turnovers on the season, thus ranking them fourth in the league. In all, it should be noted that the Ravens have held the offense for Pittsburgh in check in recent matchups as they have given up 300 yards total or less in four of their last five matchups, including just 221 yards in their four-point loss November 1st.
As we know, quarterback Lamar Jackson happens to be the tip of the spear in allowing this Ravens offense to click. However, the signal-caller has really struggled in his last few games as he has a passing completion rate of less than 60% in three of his last five games. Furthermore, the quarterback has passed for 200 yards or less in four of his last six games, overall, while posting a total of eight touchdowns along with five picks during this time. The rushing attack, however, has also been sparked by Jackson as well as he leads the team with 575 rushing yards in 2020, good for an average of 5.6 yards per carry, along with three touchdown runs.
Important to note that J. K. Dobbins along with running back Gus Edwards have also added a spark to the rushing attack as well as they have racked up over 900 rushing yards combined on the year along with six touchdowns. Dobbins, however, who rushed 15 times for 70 yards along with a touchdown versus the Titans while having 133 rushing yards versus the Ravens in early November, has tested positive for coronavirus and will likely not suit up.
The passing attack for Baltimore has been sparked by tight end Mark Andrews, who has 454 yards on the year along with six touchdown catches . On the other hand, Willie Snead IV has also shown signs of production at various times this season as well ; Yet, the receiver only had three catches for 26 yards versus a Tennessee secondary that has been getting destroyed all season long . Nick Boyle continues to be on the injured reserve list due to a knee injury. In all, the Ravens will certainly find it a bit difficult to locate opportunities for this contest as Pittsburgh ranks in the top seven in all major defensive categories, including giving up just 103 yards on the ground along with 204 yards in the air per game. Furthermore, Pittsburgh is giving up just 17 points per game while having 20 takeaways on the season, each good for first in the NFL.
Steelers ride defense to 10th straight victoryAgain, while the Steelers are certainly tearing it up on the offensive end in averaging just under 30 per game this season, it has been their defense that has been the tip of the spear in their success as they were able to thoroughly demolish the Jacksonville Jaguars in last weekend's matchup in allowing just under 200 total yards for the game, including just 73 yards on the ground. Also, Pittsburgh limited the Jaguars to just 14 first downs for the game while the home team held the ball for just over 23 and a half minutes for the contest. Cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick along with Terrell Edmunds each recorded a sack in this contest as their secondary has been really locking down opposing teams’ passing attacks . In fact, Pittsburgh allowed just 192 yards passing to the Ravens weeks ago during their four point victory; However, the Ravens beat up the Steelers on the ground in racking up a whopping 265 yards rushing with Dobbins, Edwards, along with Jackson shredding up their defensive front at every turn.
Defensive end Isaiah Buggs is questionable for this contest with an ankle injury, however, while linebacker Jayrone Elliott is questionable due to an illness. Important to note, however, that Pittsburgh is allowing just over seven points per game in their last three contests, including 14 points per game in their last five games at Heinz Field.
Ben Roethlisberger enters this contest on a high from within the pocket as he has thrown for 300 yards or more in two of his last three contests. Furthermore, the quarterback has thrown only one interception in the last four games for Pittsburgh while posting a total of 11 touchdown passes during this time. Receiver Chase Claypool has been the leading receiver for the Steelers in 2020 as he has a total of 559 yards along with 10 touchdown passes while coming off a four reception night for 59 yards along with a score versus the Jaguars.
Important to note that Claypool was targeted nine times in the Steelers win over Baltimore weeks ago while finishing with five catches for 42 yards along with a TD . Also, receiver Juju Smith Schuster led the team with seven receptions for 67 yards during the contest while tight end Eric Ebron also contributed 48 yards on four catches along with a TD catch. Smith Schuster is questionable for this contest with a toe injury.
The Steelers are averaging just 102 yards on the ground per game, ranking them 27th in the NFL ; However, James Conner has been very consistent throughout the season as he is averaging well over four yards per carry for Pittsburgh in addition to coming off a 13 rush, 89-yard performance versus Jacksonville . For the season, Connor has racked up just under eight hundred yards along with five touchdowns while rushing for 47 yards and a score on 15 carries versus Baltimore earlier this month. Expect Pittsburgh to play smash mouth football early and often in this contest as they will certainly be opportunistic due to the loss of Campbell on the defensive front for Baltimore. However, it should be mentioned that offensive lineman Kevin Dotson is out indefinitely due to injury.
Stats & Trends
- Ravens are 2-6 ATS in last 8 games
- Ravens are 1 - 3 ATS in last 4 meetings vs Steelers
- Ravens are 1 - 3 ATS in last 4 road games
- Steelers are 4-1 ATS in last 5 home games
- Steelers are 7 - 1 ATS in last 8 games
- Steelers are 3-1 ATS in last 4 games vs Ravens
Baltimore will certainly enter this matchup with a huge amount of focus and intensity as they have consistently slipped within the AFC North standings in recent weeks. Nonetheless, the team has been hit with a rash of illness on both sides of the ball as Lamar Jackson along with Willie Snead IV are each questionable for this contest due to testing positive for covid 19. And while the Steelers are up comfortably within the division at this point, I do not see them taking their foot off the pedal during this contest as they will certainly be seeking to continue their success in 2020, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
On the other hand, Roethlisberger and company will look to pound the football at every opportunity versus a Ravens defense that is struggling in stopping the run lately . In all, look for this to be a very competitive contest amongst these two division squads; However, expect the Steelers to cover the spread for the fourth time in five matchups versus Baltimore in addition to continuing to keep their undefeated record intact.