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Ravens vs. Steelers

NFL Divisional Playoffs

Betting Line: Steelers -3.5 o/u 36.5

1/15/11

 

This is what playoff football is all about. Ravens, Steelers, cold weather, maybe a little snow, likely very few points being scored, gotta love it. Both of these teams are built to win a game just like this. No domes, no cushy California or Florida weather, just brutal, hard nosed football weather. Neither of these teams are unfamiliar with this type of weather, and neither of these teams are unfamiliar with each other.

No handicapper is going to look at this game and find any "edge" in the betting line. Those edges rarely exist in the NFL as it is. Never mind a playoff game between these two teams. This isn't Northern Illinois vs. Eastern Michigan in college hoops. There, you might find an edge in the line. A mistake. Not Ravens vs. Steelers in January. The line is accurate.

If there's an edge to be had, it's in correctly reading these two teams. Who is likely to be better prepared? Will the week off help or hurt the Steelers? Will playing last week in KC and now on the road this week hurt the Ravens? Are there any key injuries? Psychological edges?

Obviously this game will come down to a big defensive play. A key interception or turnover will likely be the difference. Both teams figure to find running the ball difficult. Which also leads to difficulty in the passing game. 

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These two teams are so close statistically it's ridiculous. Both score on average 23 points per game which makes them 12th overall in the NFL. Both give up about 15 points per game, Pitt ranked 1st overall and the Ravens ranked 3rd. Baltimore gives up 116 yards rushing and the Steelers give up 120. It's like that across the board. They are neck and neck in every single stat category, including yards per point where they are both 14.5 offensively and 19 defensively.

It doesn't look like we are going to use this game as a key release. However, we'll offer a strong opinion. As mentioned, there is no decisive edge here, other than home field, which of course is important. But, the last 4 games in this series have been decided by a field goal and 7 of the past 8 have been decided by a touchdown or less. Given the make up of these two teams and how close they are statistically, we can only advise playing one side here and that would be the Ravens. Just a common sense play. If it's a nail biter, you have a good chance of covering even in a losing effort, and hey, if it's a nail biter, you have a pretty good chance of winning it straight up as well. We've seen +3.5 -115 out there, so make sure you shop, and make sure you take the hook. That might be the difference. Will call it a strong opinion - Ravens +3.5 -115. If we upgrade to an official key release, we'll let you know! Under the total of 37 may be worth a look as well. This game has 13-10 written all over it.

 

 

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