NFL Betting Spreads: AFC North Matchup as Ravens Visit the Steelers
Sunday, November 06, 2011
by Bodog Sportsbook
The Sunday night game this week is a beauty and one of the NFL’s best, and certainly most physical, rivalries when Pittsburgh Steelers hosts Baltimore Ravens with first place in the AFC North on the line. The Steelers opened as 3.5-point favorites on Bodog Sportsbook’s NFL Betting Spreads.
With all due respect to the surprising Cincinnati Bengals, the winner of this game would seem to control the division. In Week 1, Baltimore crushed Pittsburgh 35-7, the Steelers’ most lopsided loss under Mike Tomlin. The Ravens forced a team-record seven turnovers and easily had their biggest win in this often low-scoring rivalry that usually comes down to the wire. Ben Roethlisberger had won seven straight starts against the Ravens, but in this one he was 22 for 41 for 280 yards, three interceptions and two fumbles. Joe Flacco threw three TDs for Baltimore and no picks.
But since then, the two quarterbacks have gone in opposite directions. Pittsburgh (6-2) enters on a four-game winning streak and off an impressive 25-17 home victory over New England in which Big Ben threw for a season-high 365 yards and two TDs, while his 36 completions and 50 attempts were both the second-highest of his career. In the winning streak, Roethlisberger has completed 98 of 146 passes (67.1 %) for 1,154 yards, 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Baltimore (5-2) has been very uneven of late, but a win here obviously would give it the head-to-head tiebreaker over Pittsburgh for the AFC North title and playoff seeding. Flacco tends to run very hot and cold. Last week he led a comeback from 24-3 down to a 30-27 win over a lousy Arizona team by throwing for 336 yards. But Flacco didn’t throw any TD passes and completed just 53.6 percent of his passes in four October games with one TD, four picks and a passer rating of 62.7.
Flacco could face a devastated Pittsburgh defense that could be missing three starting linebackers: James Harrison, James Farrior and LaMarr Woodley. Harrison has missed the past four games and Farrior the Patriots game with injuries. Woodley had two sacks in the New England game and leads the AFC with nine but suffered a hamstring injury in the third quarter vs. New England. Woodley has 9.5 sacks in 10 career games against Baltimore, including playoffs, while Harrison has nine sacks in 10 total games against the Ravens. Pittsburgh WR Hines Ward also missed the New England win but will play.
This heated rivalry usually never ends this early in the regular season. For the previous five seasons, there has been a Ravens-Steelers game in December. Baltimore has swept the regular-season series just once, in 2006. Pittsburgh has covered six of its past seven at home. Baltimore has covered just two of the past eight meetings, although obviously Week 1 was one of them.
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