Steelers vs Ravens Odds, Prediction: Expert Makes Sunday Night Pick
Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: The Ravens offensive line against the Steelers defensive line.
- Steelers vs Ravens odds have Baltimore as a 1.5-point home favorite at most sportsbooks.
- Pittsburgh still has a shot at the playoffs, while Baltimore is eyeing the AFC North title.
- Stuckey breaks down the game and makes a Steelers vs Ravens pick below.
Steelers vs Ravens Odds
After a slew of recent NFL primetime duds, we get one of the best rivalries in all of sports on Sunday night when the Baltimore Ravens host the Pittsburgh Steelers.
One thing you can usually count on when these teams meet is a close game. Since Mike Tomlin, who’s looking to avoid his first-ever losing season as Steelers head coach, arrived in Pittsburgh in 2007, these teams have met 31 times in the regular season with an average final score of 20.3-20.1 in favor of the Ravens.
Four of those contests went to overtime and 24 were decided by one possession. Amazingly, more than half (17 of 31) were decided by a field goal or fewer. If you include three postseason meetings, the Ravens have outscored the Steelers by one point over that span (696-695).
In regards to the playoff picture, the Ravens have already locked up a postseason berth. They can still win the division by winning out. Their division hopes aren’t gone with a loss if the Bengals lose on Monday night to the Bills. A Ravens loss combined with a Cincinnati win would give the division to the Bengals and make their Week 18 meeting fairly meaningless.
Pittsburgh is still mathematically alive for the playoffs, but it’s a very long shot at less than 5% probability. In fact, the Steelers could be eliminated earlier in the day with a Dolphins victory. And if the Jets win, the only way Pittsburgh could make the playoffs is by winning out and the Dolphins losing to the Patriots and then tying the Jets in Week 18. The Patriots would also need to lose the Bills.
The most realistic path for the Steelers if they win out involves the following other AFC East cannibalization results:
- Jets lose to Seahawks and then beat Dolphins
- Patriots beat Dolphins and then lose to Bills
So, can we expect another close game in this AFC North rivalry? Let’s take a closer look at the matchup before getting into where the value may lie from a betting perspective.
Steelers vs. Ravens Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how the Steelers and Ravens match up statistically:
Steelers vs. Ravens DVOA Breakdown
It’s hard to see either offense having much success, which should resemble the old-school rock fights we’ve become accustomed to seeing in this rivalry.
Look no further than a few weeks ago, when they met in the Steel City and Ravens pulled out a 16-14 win. Don’t be surprised if we see a similar score, hence why this total has dropped to 35 without any inclement weather in the forecast. In fact, it will actually be fairly warm for a Sunday night in January in the Charm City.
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Both defenses are rolling right now. Each has held four straight opponents to fewer than 20 points. Only the Saints can also make that claim during that stretch.
Over the first eight weeks of the season, both defenses ranked outside the top 20 in EPA per drive and had a few holes. However, since Week 9, both rank in the top six overall and have graded out as the two best rush defenses over that span.
So, what has changed? Well, Pittsburgh got T.J. Watt back from injury and Baltimore added Roquan Smith via trade.
The Steelers are a different team with Watt. Since drafting him in 2017, they have a 57-26-2 (68.7%) record with him in the lineup compared to just 1-10 without. He’s that important.
Meanwhile, Baltimore also recently got star safety Marcus Williams back from injury in addition to a few other depth pieces. It also took some time to adjust to a new defensive coordinator and scheme.
However, it will likely not have a defensive unit at full strength with Marcus Peters sidelined due to injury and Calais Campbell listed as questionable after getting a limited practice session in on Friday.
It’s hard to envision either overmatched offense sustaining many drives.
The Ravens won’t have Lamar Jackson at the helm once again. He’s so important to the offense with starting wide receivers Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay on IR.
Expect Baltimore to lean on its ground game (and for Tyler Huntley to look for Mark Andrews on third downs) and play field position all night. That’s essentially what it has done in every Huntley start this season. Just look at the final scores in Huntley’s four starts:
- 10-9 win vs. Broncos
- 16-4 win at Steelers
- 13-3 loss at Browns
- 17-9 win vs. Falcons
None of those four games surpassed 30 total points, with an average of 22.75.
Huntley at least has plenty of experience, but he has been below average overall. Among 47 quarterbacks with at least 100 snaps, he ranks 32nd in CPOE+EPA composite. Having a limited wide receiver room certainly doesn’t help.
Meanwhile, Kenny Pickett hasn’t fared much better, ranking 28th in that same category. He does have much better weapons on the outside but with a much worse offensive line.
Although, since that Week 9 benchmark, the Steelers offense has been trending in a positive direction than the Ravens. Over that span, Pittsburgh’s offense ranks seventh in EPA per play, while the Ravens rank 17th.
This one will likely come down to a turnover or two and/or who can convert the likely few and far between red-zone opportunities into touchdowns.
Field position and special teams will likely play a significant role in determining the outcome. If that’s the case, the Ravens have a major edge in that department with one of — if not the best — special teams in the league compared to Pittsburgh’s bottom-five unit.
When you can get three or more points in this rivalry, you almost always have to take it.
Since John Harbaugh arrived in Baltimore in 2008, he has gone 13-3-3 ATS against Tomlin and Pittsburgh. That record comprises of a 2-10-2 ATS mark as a favorite and 11-3-1 as an underdog. As a favorite of more than a field goal, Harbaugh is 0-9-2 ATS. In contrast, he’s 8-1-1 ATS as when catching three or more points.
Remarkably, that means underdogs of three-plus points in this rivalry have gone 17-1-3 ATS (94.4%) since 2008. That’s just silly.
Now, you can see why this line has come down to 2.5 after Jackson was officially ruled out. I don’t hate buying the Steelers to +3 at -125 or better if you missed the underdog earlier in the week.
You also could wait to grab them live if the Ravens jump out to an early lead. I’d have the same advice for the total. I do lean under even at 35, but that’s a bit too low for me now compared to where I have it, so I’d like to get under 37.5 or better if there’s an early score.
The best option of all might be to tease the Steelers from +2.5 to +8.5. It is the ideal teaser piece, as one can tease through both the 3 and 7 in a game with a total of 35. It doesn’t get any better than that from a teaser perspective.