NFL Betting Preview: Ravens at Steelers

Ravens Steelers logosA pair of bitter AFC North rivals kick off the divisional round of the NFL playoffs on Saturday when the Baltimore Ravens visit the Pittsburgh Steelers (4:35 p.m. ET, CBS).

These two teams are like mirror opposites in terms of both records and statistics. Each team won 12 games in the regular season but the Steelers won the division based on tiebreakers. The teams split their two games this season with each team winning by a field goal on the road.

Pittsburgh (10-6 ATS) is a 3-point favorite at and the total is set at 37. On the moneyline, the Steelers are -175; the Ravens are +155.

The Ravens (8-7-1 ATS) were able to win earlier this season in Pittsburgh but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger missed that game due to suspension.

The Ravens couldn’t beat “Big Ben” last month in Baltimore and they have had no success against the Steelers when Roethlisberger has been under center, losing the last six meetings.

Baltimore had the third best defense in the league during the regular season allowing only 16.9 points per game. In last week’s Wild Card game, the Ravens shut down Kansas City 30-7 as 3-point road favorites. That win improved the Ravens’ road betting record to 4-0 ATS over the last four games.

There are a couple of negative numbers for Baltimore, however. The Ravens are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games in January and they are 2-5-1 ATS in their last eight vs. the AFC North.

Pittsburgh finished with the number one defense in the league allowing just 14.5 points per game. The Steelers were also first in the league against the run (62.8 ypg).

The one area in which they can be attacked is through the air – the Pittsburgh defense allowed 214 ypg through the air this season, No. 12 in the league. Whether or not the Ravens, led by quarterback Joe Flacco, have the offensive weapons to exploit this slight weakness is questionable.

The Steelers have some great numbers for this game. They are 8-0 ATS in their last eight games in January and they are 5-0 ATS in their last five vs. the AFC North. The Steelers are 4-0 ATS in their last four playoff home games.

With both teams loaded on defense, this game has the potential to be low-scoring. And Baltimore has historically been kind to under bettors. The under is 4-0 in the Ravens’ last four vs. the AFC North and the under is 6-2 in the Ravens last eight playoff games.

What makes the over worth at least considering is that nine of the last 10 Pittsburgh home playoff games have gone over. And in this series, the over is 5-1-1 in the last seven meetings in Pittsburgh. This is perhaps a reflection of oddsmakers posting totals that are too low.

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