15* Ravens/Steelers NBC Sunday Night BAILOUT on Pittsburgh +3.5
Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh,
11/18/2012 20:20 EDT,
Score: 13 - 10
Point Spread: +3½/-110 Pittsburgh
The Steelers have been a resilient team with injuries all season. They have been without arguably their two best defensive players in Troy Polamalu and James Harrison for more than half the season, yet they’ve managed to go 6-3. This is a team that has the motto of ‘next man up’ and they are sticking to it. Plus, the Ravens have their own injury problems with Ray Lewis and LarDarius Webb, etc.
Pittsburgh wants revenge from falling victim to a season sweep at the hands of the Ravens last season. It has had this game circled on its calendars since the end of last year. That’s a big reason why the Steelers easily could have been overlooking the Chiefs on Monday night. Trailing Baltimore by one game in the division, this is clearly a much more important game for the Steelers.
Heinz Field has been a very friendly place for the Steelers, and an unfriendly one for opponents. Pittsburgh is 4-0 at home this season, outscoring opponents 21.5 to 12.2, or by an average of 9.3 points per game. Baltimore is 2-2 on the road, getting outscored 17.5 to 22.0, or by an average of 4.5 points per game.
Defense usually wins these games in this rivalry. Well, Pittsburgh clearly has the better defense this season. The Steelers rank 1st in the league in total defense (265.7 yards/game), while the Ravens rank a woeful 27th in total defense (390.2 yards/game).
Pittsburgh was a 3.5-point favorite before Big Ben was ruled out. Now, it is a 3.5-point dog, meaning Roethlisberger's worth is 7 points. I believe his worth is only 4 points, meaning we're getting 3 full points of value here, which is huge in the NFL.
Byron Leftwich obviously didn't look great against Kansas City, but he had to come off the bench in rain and cold weather, which is a tough task for any backup. With a full week of practice to prepare, he'll be much sharper Sunday. Plus, Pittsburgh will be able to run the ball against a Baltimore defense that ranks 24th against the run (132.0 yards/game).
Pittsburgh is 8-1 ATS in home games after 1 or more consecutive losses against the spread over the last 3 seasons. Baltimore is 3-12 ATS in road games after 2 consecutive games with a turnover margin of +2 or better since 1992. The Steelers are 35-15 ATS when playing against a top-level team (Win Pct. > 75%) since 1992. Take the Steelers Sunday.