Sunday, December 25, 4.30pm, Heinz Field
Against the spread record:
Steelers – 250
Points spread market:
Steelers -6 @ 5Dimes.eu
THERE is no better rivalry in the NFL than the one between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers.
In Week 16 of a tight season, with playoff spots on the line, we’ve got a Christmas Day special.
Both teams have it all to play for with the Steelers able to secure the AFC North if they are victorious. The Ravens will be hoping to even things up at the top of the division and make a run for the playoff spot.
The Ravens didn’t make life easy for themselves when beating the Eagles by a point last week, but the win did put them within range of the Steelers which hold a one game advantage of their rival.
Having rattled off five consecutive wins, the Steelers are making mince meat of some quality teams which included a 28-7 win over the Colts and a 24-14 win over the Giants which were on a winning streak heading into that game.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is excited about the opportunity to play their rival in such a big occasion.
“We are excited about this opportunity,” Tomlin said.
“When you really think about it, it’s going to be an exciting game for us, an exciting game for them. It’s going to be an exciting game for the fans.
“You could say that both teams have been fighting and clawing for some period of time to get to this point, to this game, in this stadium, with this amount of significance or what is at stake.
“From a competitor’s standpoint it’s an awesome thing. It is a snapshot of December football.”
The Ravens enter Sunday’s clash having lost four consecutive road games, but they have taken the last four games against the Steelers. Ravens coach John Harbaugh knows how tough it is to win at Heinz Field.
“We understand the challenge that’s presented,” Harbaugh said.
“Pittsburgh is playing great football. (It’s a) great team – all phases – a very well-coached, obviously, excellent playmakers, tough, hard-nosed team, and we’re looking forward to the challenge.
“But we feel like we’re up to it.”
The Ravens’ secondary could be in strife if starting cornerback Jimmy Smith is out. Smith was injured in the Ravens loss to the New England Patriots and Ravens safety Eric Weddle believes the task facing his defense will be tough with or without Smith.
“It’s going to be tough with Jimmy or not,” Weddle said. “We have to play each play like it’s going to determine whether we win or lose.”
Pittsburgh La’Veon Bell has been dominant since returning from suspension, but his numbers against the Ravens don’t stack up. Bell has averaged only 67.6 yards in six career games against the Ravens, which rank second in run defense in the league.
Steelers offensive lineman David DeCastro doesn’t care how many rushing yards they get, so long as they win the game.
“We’ve got to win the game,” offensive lineman DeCastro said.
“I don’t care how it gets done. If we have one rushing yards or 200 rushing yards – it doesn’t matter. We’ve just got to get the win.”
Ravens vs. Steelers game prediction
There is usually very little between these two sides and bookmakers are being generous giving a six-point start for the Ravens, but the Steelers are the superior team heading into Sunday.
The Steelers may have lost the last four games against the Ravens, but with the likes of Ben Rothelisberger and La’Veon Bell in their team, we can’t see that turning into five straight.
Expect the Steelers to come out with a good mix of passing and run plays which will have the Ravens’ secondary in tatters.
Our tip: Steelers -6 at 5Dimes to win the AFC North and get a first round bye in the playoffs.