Ben needs to be on top form

Roethlisberger To Carry Steelers Past Ravens

One of the fiercest rivals in the NFL will resume on Sunday when the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field.

The Steelers came from behind to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night. They trailed by 17 points in the second quarter, but managed to rally to claim a 23-20 win on the road. The victory was even more impressive considering the club lost linebacker Ryan Shazier to a serious back injury.

Shazier will likely be sidelined for the rest of the season and potentially beyond after undergoing surgery on his spine. The 25-year-old was operating at a high level and his absence will be a major blow for the team as their defense has started to struggle in recent weeks.

Fortunately Ben Roethlisberger has started to play like his usual self, throwing for two touchdowns and 290 yards in the club’s win over the Bengals. He along with Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown hold the key for Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl aspirations. Should they continue to fire on all cylinders there’s a strong possibility that Mike Tomlin’s men could secure home-field advantage for the AFC playoffs.

The Ravens are in the hunt for a playoff spot and currently hold the sixth seed. John Harbaugh’s side are clinging on to their place and a defeat could knock them out with only three matches remaining in the campaign. Their defense has been outstanding this term and has been the club’s saving grace.

Injuries are beginning to take their hold, with cornerback Jimmy Smith ruled out for the season. Quarterback Joe Flacco has begun to put points on the board, but will need to raise the level of his game against the Steelers on the road.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben needs to be on top form

The Steelers’ rally from their 17-point deficit to claim victory over the Bengals was extremely impressive given the circumstances. It would have been very easy for Pittsburgh’s players to lose focus after Shazier’s injury. However, they managed to get back on track to take control of the game before Chris Boswell fired a late field goal through the posts to claim the win.

The victory was vital for Tomlin’s men to take them back above the New England Patriots into the number one seed in the AFC. After playing the Ravens, the Steelers will host the Patriots at Heinz Field, which will surely dictate who attains home-field advantage throughout the post-season.

Pittsburgh cannot afford to take their eye of their greatest rivals though as the Ravens come to town on a three-match winning streak. Bell and Brown carried their side to victory over the Bengals as they have done for much of the campaign. One of the most pleasing aspects of the triumph was the role played by Roethlisberger, who appears to be inching his way back to form.

‘The Killer Bs’ can destroy any defense in the NFL and will need them to be on form against one of the NFL’s best. Juju Smith-Schuster’s suspension will place further pressure on the trio, but they’ve been there and done it before against Baltimore.

Shazier’s injury leaves a hole in the middle of the defense. Vince Williams has played extremely well this term, but cannot hold the fort alone. Tyler Matakevich came into the side in relief of Shazier, although he struggled at times to cope with the task. Pittsburgh will need stronger performances from their senior players, especially on the defensive line to overcome the linebacker’s absence.

Baltimore Ravens

Suggs needs a dominant outing

Credit: Getty Images

The Ravens have battled their way back into the playoff picture and could be the side that no-one wants to face in the first week of January. They’ve reeled off three win on the bounce since their bye week and have improved significantly on the offensive side of the ball.

Flacco has started to connect with his receivers, putting on a clinic in a comfortable win over the Detroit Lions last week. The running game has been a powerful weapon for the club this term. Alex Collins signed in the early stages of the campaign and has amassed 705 yards and four touchdowns in his 11 matches.

The 23-year-old was deemed surplus to requirements by the Seattle Seahawks, but has found a home in Baltimore, opening up room in the passing game for Flacco. Without him the Ravens would be struggling for production on offense.

The Ravens quarterback has been battling issues throughout the season. Flacco’s performance against the Lions was a positive sign for the club, although he has still only thrown 11 touchdowns this term to go with his 11 interceptions. To defeat Pittsburgh on the road, the 31-year-old will need to channel his past playoff performances, displaying deadly accuracy downfield.

Baltimore have been outstanding on defense throughout the term. However, they’ve been dealt a massive blow with the injury of Smith. The loss leaves them short on depth with Tavon Young, having already been ruled out during pre-season.

Rookie Marlon Humphrey has to step up in his place and it could leave them exposed in the secondary. The front seven has been formidable and will need stronger outings from Terrell Suggs, CJ Mosley and company to bridge the gap.

Betting Options

The contests between the two sides are always hard to predict. The Steelers eased to a comfortable win their match-up earlier this season. However, the game last season was a classic, which ended in Brown stretching over the goal-line to score the match-winning touchdown in the final seconds. Hopefully we’ll have another one of those contests on our hands. Pittsburgh will be relying on the arm of Roethlisberger to secure the win and his connection with Brown.

The Ravens will make life difficult on the quarterback with their third-ranked passing defense. The absence of Smith could loom large, pending on whether Brown is double-teamed. Bell will find life tough to get going due to the presence of Mosley in the middle of the field – therefore it should be a closely-fought game.

However, since Tomlin’s men are at home, back them to emerge the victors at -208   with BetOnline. The Steelers have not been convincing in their last few matches, winning by field goals against the Bengals and Green Bay Packers so take the Ravens on the +3.5 spread with Bet Bright at -105 . Baltimore’s defense should hold Pittsburgh in check – therefore take the under on 23.5 points scored with 888Sport at -105 . Collins has found the endzone in his last four matches – take the Ravens running back to score anytime again at +135   with 888Sport.

Tips Summary

Pittsburgh Steelers To Beat Baltimore Ravens
Sunday 10th December 2017 20:30 (Monday 11th December 2017 01:30 GMT)
Odds: -208

Take +3.5 Spread Baltimore Ravens
Sunday 10th December 2017 20:30 (Monday 11th December 2017 01:30 GMT)
Odds: -105

Pittsburgh Steelers To Score Under 23.5 Points
Sunday 10th December 2017 20:30 (Monday 11th December 2017 01:30 GMT)
Odds: -105

Alex Collins To Score Touchdown Anytime
Sunday 10th December 2017 20:30 (Monday 11th December 2017 01:30 GMT)
Odds: +135

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