The Pittsburgh Steelers get one last chance to clinch a playoff spot when they face the Baltimore Ravens in a divisional showdown that is set to bring down the curtain on the 2021 NFL season – and, potentially even, on the career of future Hall of Fame quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.
The Steelers and the Ravens are technically in play for the playoffs, but the Steelers have a 4% chance while the Ravens have a 3% chance of clinching a spot. This is according to the brilliant NFL gurus that have worked out the mathematical probability of each team and shared those stats with the wider public.
In terms of the playoffs, the NFL odds are stacked against both the Steelers and Ravens, respectively. There are too many scenarios that need to fall in place to give either team a shot, but everything begins with a win on Sunday. The team that loses this game is most definitely out of the frame, no ifs or buts about it.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, January 9, 2022 – 1:00 PM EST at M&T Bank Stadium
NFL Odds and Lines
As far as the NFL odds go for this Week 18 contest, the markets are cornering this game wholeheartedly with Baltimore. As things currently stand, the Ravens are laying a touchdown – if not more — with several top-rated sportsbooks.
This is an interesting market outlook – if not a curious one – considering the slew of injuries that have crippled the Ravens down the stretch, including Lamar Jackson, who has missed several games with an ankle injury. It’s also worth noting that the Ravens lost the first meeting with the Steelers at Heinz Field, 20-19.
Pittsburgh Steelers Clinching Scenario
The Steelers will clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Ravens plus a Colts loss to the Jaguars plus the Chargers-Raiders game not ending in a tie.
Baltimore Ravens Clinching Scenario
The Ravens will clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Steelers plus a Chargers loss to the Raiders plus a Colts loss to the Jaguars plus a Dolphins loss/tie against the Patriots. The Ravens are in a curious position. They sit behind Miami in the AFC standings, but they’re still alive unlike the Dolphins, who are eliminated already.
Steelers Win Last Home Game
What could have been Roethlisberger’s last home game before the 38-year-old quarterback, as is widely expected, hangs up his cleats at the end of this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers delivered a 26-14 win over the Cleveland Browns to come through as the 1-point road underdogs in NFL betting markets. In winning, the Steelers improved to an 8-7-1 record on the season and kept their slim playoff hopes alive.
It also ensured that Mike Tomlin would keep his impressive streak of finishing no lower than .500 going for another year. Tomlin has never had a losing season in his 14-year tenure with the Steelers. And Big Ben has never had a losing season in his 18-year long career either.
The Steelers fought hard to clinch the win. It was a very Steelers-kind of game. From the moment they took the field against the already eliminated Browns, there was a sense that losing wasn’t an option. While Big Ben and the offense took a while to get going, the defense rose to the occasion in a big way.
They were everywhere and applied constant pressure on the Cleveland offense. They sacked Baker Mayfield nine times and intercepted him twice, frustrating the fourth-year signal-caller at every turn.
Ravens Too Banged Up
The Ravens limp into Week 18 riding a five-game losing streak. Somehow, they’re still technically alive in the playoff race, but only just. It would take a miracle for John Harbaugh’s side to clinch a spot in the postseason now. The Ravens are coming off losses to the Steelers, Browns, Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Los Angeles Rams.
It’s been a rough slog with injuries and covid-19 decimating Harbaugh’s roster. The Ravens didn’t quit or tap out of the season despite their many challenges. They fought hard, and that’s something they deserve credit for.
Only recently, the Ravens gave the Rams as good as they got in a narrow 20-19 defeat. The Ravens closed as the whopping 7-point underdogs in point spread betting markets only to come through with the cover for NFL picks.
The Ravens are hoping Jackson will be available for this final game of the season, but according to Wednesday’s reports, the star quarterback didn’t practice. Whether that’s a good or bad sign remains to be seen. The quarterback missed Baltimore’s last two games due to injury, so we’ll have to see if he practices on Thursday or Friday.
NFL Picks and Predictions
Given the uncertainty that surrounds Jackson and his availability for this must-win game, it’s somewhat surprising the Ravens are favored by as much as a touchdown with multiple sports betting sites. On the flip side, this is a big game for the Steelers, who will be keen to finish the season on a high note, no matter the outcome of the playoff race.
What Roethlisberger has accomplished in his career with Pittsburgh, it’s only fitting that the Steelers leave it all on the field for him and do what it takes to provide a winning conclusion to his legacy. As such, taking the points for NFL picks with the Steelers is the choice bet here.
NFL Pick: Steelers +5.5 (-110) with Caesars Sportsbook