Ravens-Steelers SNF Betting Preview: Another Tight Game Brewing in Primetime?
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco
Betting odds: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
- Spread: Steelers -3
- Over/Under: 50.5
- Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
- TV channel: NBC
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Betting market: Not a ton of activity on the spread, which has remained at Steelers -3 at most shops (you can find live odds here).
There hasn’t been much sharp action as of yet, but we could definitely see some later movement considering the game’s primetime TV spot and the high number of bets that will come along with it. — Mark Gallant
Did you know? The Ravens have the second-fastest offense in the NFL this year lead and the NFL in points per red zone possession, as they’ve scored a touchdown in every single red zone appearance.
Don’t expect that to persist long-term, but it just might for another week against a Pittsburgh defense that ranks 30th in TD/FG ratio (6-1) allowed in the red zone. — Stuckey
This is the 14th time in 18 games between Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco that the spread will fall between -3.5 and +3.5 for both teams. Pittsburgh has a very slight 7-6 SU and 7-5-1 ATS edge in the 13 previous games with a spread this small. — Evan Abrams
Trend to know: Since Roethlisberger’s first career start in 2004, the over is 61-46-3 (57%, +11.8 units) at Heinz Field. According to our Bet Labs data, that makes him the third-most profitable home quarterback in that span.
He is one of three quarterbacks to profit over bettors at least 10 units at home (Tom Brady and Drew Brees are the others).
When Roethlisberger plays at home in primetime, the over is 17-8-1 (68%, +8.3 units). The only quarterback more profitable in this spot since 2004? Tony Romo, who was 15-5 (+9.7 units). — Abrams
Metrics that matter: The Ravens’ defensive numbers have been impressive no matter where you look. They rank first in the NFL in yards per drive at 18.89 — a five-yard lead over the Bears, who rank second.
That’s despite ranking dead last in the NFL in average opponent field position, which you’d expect to improve significantly with one of the better special teams units in the league. — Stuckey
DFS edge: The Steelers’ passing game isn’t just for Antonio Brown anymore. This season, JuJu Smith-Schuster is barely being out-targeted by Brown (38-42), but JuJu has seen more looks than Brown in the red zone (10-4) and is leading the Steelers with 50% of their red zone target share.
Smith-Schuster will also have the better matchup in the slot against Tavon Young, who has allowed a passer rating of 148.8 when targeted this season (per Pro Football Focus).
Injury watch: Stud Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith will serve the final game of his suspension, but the defense expects to have linebacker C.J. Mosley (leg), defensive tackle Michael Pierce (foot) and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (knee).
First-round tight end Hayden Hurst (foot) returned to practice this week, but might still be a week away from seeing too many game snaps.
Smith-Schuster (abdomen) and slot corner Mike Hilton (elbow) returned to limited practices Thursday after missing Wednesday’s session. The only other concern is starting safety Morgan Burnett (groin), who practiced in full Wednesday before being downgraded to a limited participant Thursday.
Bet To Watch: Ravens +3.5
These games are generally very close, as these two division rivals know each other very well. Both have had the same coaches and quarterbacks for more than a decade.
There really haven’t been many surprises for a long time in this series. So, the difference between 3 and 3.5 is even more important in this particular matchup.
Consider this: 13 of the 23 Ravens-Steelers games since 2008 have been decided by three points or fewer.
In close games, penalties and special teams become all the more important, and the Ravens have a distinct advantage in both.
The Steelers’ 361 penalty yards lead the NFL by nearly 100 over the next highest penalized team (Eagles: 266 yards). Pittsburgh also leads the NFL with 44 penalties — 12 more than the next-highest (49ers).
The Ravens have been called for 23 penalties for 181 yards, both nearly half as much as the Steelers marks’ in those same categories.
The Ravens consistently have one of the best special teams units. Meanwhile, the Steelers have struggled immensely on special teams. Per Pro Football Outsiders’ DAVE Special Teams rating, the Steelers project in the bottom six for the rest of the season, while the Ravens project in the top five.
Look no further than the kicking game, where Chris Boswell has been nothing short of a disaster to start the year in Pittsburgh. Boswell is 1-of-4 on field-goal attempts (with zero attempts longer than 50 yards) and has missed two extra points this season as well.
On the other hand, Justin Tucker, the most accurate kicker in NFL history, is 3-of-3 from over 50 yards and has not missed an extra point (215 for 215 in extra points).
While the Ravens have the cornerback depth to deal with Brown without Smith in the lineup, the Steelers’ defense has many issues.
Pittsburgh is one of only five teams that has allowed 30 points per game over its first three games and it benefited from a game in a monsoon against the Browns.
The Steelers have also allowed 410 yards per game — the fourth-most in the league — while the Ravens pace the NFL with a stingy 273 yards per game.
Hunt that hook — set line alerts in The Action Network app to see when it moves — and side with the hungry dog looking to end a three-game losing streak in this heated rivalry that comes down to the last possession more times than not. — Stuckey
Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.