Thursday Night Football: Steelers at Ravens

Thursday Night Football: Steelers at Ravens

The maelstrom of controversy surrounding the Week 2 Thursday night game has rightfully overshadowed the action on the field. While Roger Goodell continues to point fingers of blame at everyone but himself, the Ravens and Steelers will attempt to do what they’re paid to do and renew their bitter AFC North rivalry. After losing to the Bengals in Week 1, Baltimore can ill afford to drop another divisional matchup. Pittsburgh took their foot off the gas against Cleveland and it almost cost them a win. Ten of the last 12 meetings in this series have been decided by 3 points or fewer. However, Baltimore has taken four of the last six. Here’s a preview.

PITTSBURGH AT BALTIMORE  -2.5

The good news is the Steelers offense looks pretty potent. Big Ben threw for almost 300 yards in the first half last Sunday. Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton combined for 213 yards. Le’Veon Bell totaled 197 yards and a score. The bad news is the defense looks shaky. The Browns ran roughshod on them in the second half and probably would’ve won if Brian Hoyer wasn’t awful. The Ravens at least have a quarterback who can launch a pass longer than 30 yards, so another shootout is very possible.

Baltimore has a lot of issues on the field as well as off. Of course that starts with the suddenly thin backfield which must rely on the overrated Bernard Pierce and journeyman Justin Forsett. It’s the opposite of a dynamic duo, but the Browns exposed holes in the Steelers run defense, so don’t look for the Ravens to get too far away from their identity. Joe Flacco hurling 62 passes isn’t going to result in many victories, no matter how good Dennis Pitta and the ageless Steve Smith look.

Zero sacks and interceptions for the normally opportunistic Ravens defense in Week 1. That will need to change if they hope to contain Roethlisberger and Co. Rookie C.J. Mosley wasted little time making an impact, finishing with a team-high 7 combined tackles. Terrell Suggs has to pressure the pocket and deliver knockdowns. Allowing Ben time to find open receivers will lead to bad things for the Baltimore secondary. Ravens are 20-65 with a negative turnover differential. John Harbaugh is 11-1 at home in September.

One can’t help but think the media circus pitching a tent outside Ravens’ facilities is going to affect the team’s focus, especially on a short week. Players aren’t being asked anything about the game. Meanwhile, a lot of people who normally don’t root for Pittsburgh will be secretly hoping they pummel Baltimore as some measure of payback for the front office’s role in the Ray Rice fiasco. Steelers have covered five of six within the division and are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 overall. Ravens are 1-5 ATS in their last six.

Bet Pittsburgh +2.5