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Will Pittsburgh Wrestle Back Initiative From Baltimore?

November 1, 2018

The Pittsburgh Steelers have roared back into life in the 2018 season after their sluggish start and will now have the opportunity to regain the initiative in the AFC North against the Baltimore Ravens.

Pittsburgh recorded just one victory in their opening four games of the term, including a defeat at the hands of the Ravens at Heinz Field. Since the loss on home soil, Mike Tomlin’s men have rounded into form, winning their last three matches on the bounce.

The Steelers have been without Le’Veon Bell for the entirety of their campaign. However, the presence of James Conner has allowed them to thrive in his absence. Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown have remained their consistent selves, while the defense has managed to perform enough for their side to get back to form. They will need to maintain that level against the Ravens.

Baltimore’s fortunes have changed drastically since their win over Pittsburgh. John Harbaugh’s side have lost three of their last four matches, including to the Cleveland Browns in overtime. The defense has been one of the best in the league this term, but were exposed last time out by the Carolina Panthers. They cannot afford to allow their levels to slip against their rivals.

Can Flacco beat Pittsburgh again?

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens were looking like the team to beat in the AFC North following their win over the Steelers on the road at the end of September. However, they failed to kick on in October bar their dominant performance over the Tennessee Titans. The Ravens suffered a bad defeat at the hands of the Browns, missing several opportunities in the fourth quarter and overtime to snatch the win. Justin Tucker’s usually reliable boot cost them against the New Orleans Saints, with the kicker missing a game-tying extra-point at the death.

Worryingly for the Ravens their defense was cut apart by Carolina last week. Cam Newton was able to put 36 points on the board for his team, exposing Baltimore’s supposed strength. Harbaugh and his team cannot afford the loss to linger over the team, with a strong outing needed against their divisional rivals to maintain their hold on the tie-breaker in the AFC North.

Joe Flacco has continued his issues with consistency this season. He has thrown 12 touchdowns to six interceptions, although two of those errors came in the loss to the Panthers last week. Michael Crabtree and John Brown have found life downfield in the first season for the club. Flacco does have options to hit with regularity, but the problem has been connecting to pile points on the board.

The running game has not provided impetus either as Alex Collins has averaged 3.7 yards per carry with five touchdowns on the term. Baltimore’s offense played well against the Steelers in their earlier match-up and need to rediscover their form to match Roethlisberger and company.

Although the Ravens had a poor performance last week against the Panthers, they’re still ranked as the NFL’s number one unit. Their pass defense has been the strength of the side, allowing only 195 yards per game. Their secondary has been solid, boasting quality and depth to match up even against the best offensive teams the league. The clash between the secondary and Pittsburgh’s wideouts may well decide the contest.

Pittsburgh Steelers

There were worrying signs at the start of the season as the Steelers struggled out of the gate. They could only tie against the Browns, while defeats against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Ravens put the club under immediate pressure. However, Tomlin and his side have responded, playing complementary football to win three matches on the bounce. Even without Bell, Pittsburgh have more than enough production to blow the majority of teams away in the NFL.

The Steelers have had a decent run of games to right the ship, playing the Browns at home along with the Atlanta Falcons, who have been without the core players of their defense. Their clash with the Cincinnati Bengals was an important game for the club this term. Roethlisberger continued his dominance over the Bengals with a late game-winning drive to secure the victory on the road. That result could be the one that sparks Pittsburgh’s surge for another playoff berth.

Conner has been the star of the offense for the Steelers. The running back has stepped up superbly in the absence of Bell, replicating his production from the backfield. The 23-year-old has almost recorded 1,000 yards from the line of scrimmage this term along with nine touchdowns. He has been Pittsburgh’s saving grace as their All-Pro does not appear to be in line to return to the team due to his contract dispute.

Roethlisberger has been consistent, although there are signs of decline in his play, while JuJu Smith-Schuster has been the go-to-target in the passing game amassing more receiving yards than Antonio Brown. Brown still has eight touchdowns on the campaign, highlighting his continued value in the endzone.

On the other side of the ball, Pittsburgh have been good enough, although against elite teams there are still concerns. The Ravens will provide a good test of how the unit has improved on their performances from earlier in the season, but it still remains the Steelers’ weakness.

Betting Options

There are always fireworks when the Ravens and Steelers face off. Baltimore’s offense built a lead in the first game between the sides this term before their defense saw out the contest, clamping down Roethlisberger and company on the road. On home soil it should be a closer game, but Harbaugh’s men should have enough to clinch the win to get back to form at odds of -140  with BetOnline.

The Ravens won the earlier match-up by eight points on the road. Although the Steelers have the offensive power to fire, Baltimore will be able to hold them in check for a -3 spread at odds of +110 with BetOnline. The over/under line has been set at 47.5 points by TopBet, take the under at -110  due to the quality of the Ravens’ defense and for the home side to win a low-scoring game.

Baltimore added Ty Montgomery from the Green Bay Packers to bolster their running back and receiving corps. Back him to make an immediate impact for his new team by finding the endzone anytime at odds of 6/4  with 888Sport. Vance McDonald has been a dark horse for the Steelers from the tight end position, he has value at odds of 5/2  to score a touchdown. The duel between Flacco and Roethlisberger may define the game, back the Steelers quarterback to throw for more yards than his counterpart at 7/10  with 888Sport. Take Flacco at evens to throw two or more touchdowns at odds of 1/1 , emulating his outing from the earlier meeting between the sides.

Tips Summary

Baltimore Ravens To Beat Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday 4th November 2018 13:00 ET (18:00 GMT)
Odds: -140

Baltimore Ravens -3 Spread
Sunday 4th November 2018 13:00 ET (18:00 GMT)
Odds: +110

Under 47.5 Points To Be Scored
Sunday 4th November 2018 13:00 ET (18:00 GMT)
Odds: -110

Ty Montgomery To Score Touchdown Anytime
Sunday 4th November 2018 13:00 ET (18:00 GMT)
Odds: 6/4

Vance McDonald To Score Touchdown Anytime
Sunday 4th November 2018 13:00 ET (18:00 GMT)
Odds: 5/2

Ben Roethlisberger To Throw For More Passing Yards Than Joe Flacco
Sunday 4th November 2018 13:00 ET (18:00 GMT)
Odds: 7/10

Joe Flacco To Score Over 1.5 Touchdowns
Sunday 4th November 2018 13:00 ET (18:00 GMT)
Odds: 1/1

  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Joe Flacco
  • NFL
  • Pittsburgh Steelers

    About the author

    Simon Sinclair
    Simon Sinclair

    Sports Writer

    Simon is a freelance sports writer from the UK. He passionately writes about all kinds of sports, sharing his predictions on everything from the latest cricket matches and golf tournaments to major horse racing events and popular American sports.