Early action on the NFL odds board has made the Pittsburgh Steelers the right pick versus the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, December 5, 2021- 4:25 PM EST at Heinz Field
I’m not going to lie: Every time I see the Baltimore Ravens are about to face the Pittsburgh Steelers, I immediately want to put Baltimore in my NFL picks. They’re the less famous of these two AFC North franchises, but they usually have the better defense, and John Harbaugh is one of the most respected head coaches in the league.
It appears times have changed, though. The Ravens went on a delicious 5-3 SU and 7-1-1 ATS tear between 2015 and 2018, but this series has evened out somewhat since then, with Pittsburgh winning three of five and the cash split down the middle at 2-2-1 ATS. Great, another thing to blame Lamar Jackson for. So who do we pick this time, with Baltimore priced as 4.5-point road faves on the NFL odds board at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review) after opening at –3?
Most Volatile Player
Actually, that line move pretty much settles things. The projections we’re looking at have the Ravens (8-3 SU, 5-6 ATS) winning by about three points, so the Steelers (5-5-1 SU, 4-7 ATS) should be a bargain at +4.5, although maybe not quite enough to throw down a seriously chunky bet. However, if you were one of the early bettors who jumped on Baltimore –3 at +100 juice, you probably made the right call – and the consensus reports at press time do show 88 percent support for the Ravens.
Let’s get back to Jackson, though. He continues to rack up victories despite making some near-catastrophic blunders along the way. The former MVP has already thrown a career-high 12 interceptions to go with his 15 touchdown passes, and he’s lost three of his five fumbles as well; Football Outsiders have Jackson ranked way down at No. 22 overall on their passing DVOA chart (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), one spot behind New Orleans Saints fill-in Trevor Siemian.
The Pittsburgh Plunge
Meanwhile, the mortal remains of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (14 TDs, six INTs, five lost fumbles) can be found at No. 19 on said chart. And before anyone chimes in about Jackson’s running skills, he’s actually in negative territory this year according to DVOA. Yet they keep winning. Baltimore’s league-best special teams have repeatedly bailed them out, even while both their offense and defense have played at a mediocre level this year.
The Steelers are at a deficit in all three aspects of the game, at least on paper, but they’ll be playing this matchup at home, in somewhat gloomy weather – although not gloomy enough to make us look at that 44-point total at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review). Again, that line move is key.
The Ravens are usually the underdogs at Heinz Field; they’ve lost all four of their December games in Pittsburgh since Harbaugh took over as head coach in 2008, but they ended up going 3-0-1 ATS. Now it’s the Steelers who are getting the points, and now that they’ve cleared the magic number three, we’re on board here at the home office.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.