Steeling for the Weekend

Published on 11-Sep-2014 by Steve Soprano
Football - NFL / NFL Daily Stake

Pass this.

Week 2 of the NFL season begins tonight in Baltimore, as the Ravens host the Steelers in an always-heated AFC North battle.

It's been quite the tumultuous week at Ravens headquarters, with the release of that video. The graphic images led to the Ravens releasing Rice from the team, and it's unknown if or when he'll ever play in the NFL again.

While I love the Steelers here -- getting Bovada's 3 points -- it has nothing to do with this week's news and everything to do with what we've learned about this rivalry going back several years. And a lot of what we know is that these are almost always closely contested games.  

Just take a look at the recent head-to-head match-ups using the Bovada data tool on the Home page and you'll see that an incredible 8 of the last 10 games between these two have been decided by three points or less, with the Steelers also holding a 5-3-2 edge in those contests against the spread.

Steelers v Ravens header

Steelers v Ravens close games

Also, there are various betting trends pertinent to the Ravens and their performance against the spread that don't bode well for Baltimore backers tonight. Some are overall betting trends, like only covering once ATS in their last six games,covering poorly at home as of late, and covering in their series with the Steelers.

Something else of concern for the Ravens is balance. Notice their rushing total of just 94 yards last week in their loss to Cincinnati.

Pittsburgh, on the other hand, looks to be a team with multiple backs carrying the load, coupled with the always steady Ben Roethlisberger heading up the passing game. He's got a history of big plays, and here are a few of them:

The Rice story will grab all the headlines -- and I'm sure will be the topic of conversation by announcers and sideline reporters -- but remember that he originally wasn't going to play in the game, anyway; Rice was to serve his initial two-game suspension before everything hit the fan on Monday.  

So I'm not getting into all the 'potential distraction' hype that the media will stir up. I'm going on rock-solid data showing this series has been closely contested to the extreme, with Pittsburgh holding the recent edge ATS. Also, the Steelers appear to be more balanced on offense and will have more answers defensively, too.

While Bovada has this line at 3, the spread is down to 2.5 at many other Vegas and offshore sports books. So it'd be to your advantage to jump on Bovada and take advantage of that extra half-point before it gets knocked down.  

I'm really tempted to make a play for Pittsburgh here on the money line, but these games have been so close that the difference between winner and loser could literally go right down to the wire. Instead, I'll just play it safe and take the three, which in this series is like getting 10 points from other NFL games.  

My pick:  Pittsburgh Steelers     +3

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ResultBaltimore 26 Pittsburgh 6     Ravens cover

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