Ravens Steelers Wildcard Pick

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Ravens

vs.

Steelers

AFC

Wild Card

Playoff Pick

1/3/15

The Pittsburgh Steelers will host the Baltimore Ravens in the Saturday AFC Wild Card Game which will kick off at 8:15 pm est. The current line at 5 dimes sportsbook has the Steelers favored by -3 with a total of 46.5. With some shopping, it was possible to get +3.5 and even +4 on the Ravens but for the most part, the line has held at a solid -3 across the board.

We haven’t been high on the Steelers all year. At least, not in terms of them being a legitimate Super Bowl contender. That sentiment is the result of the Steelers play against weak opposition. Specifically, losses to the Bucs, Browns, Jets and Saints and barely getting by the Jags. Those teams didn’t just miss making the playoffs. They were among the worst teams in the NFL this year. Go back in NFL history and find some Super Bowl Champs that had losses like that on their daNCe card. You won’t find any.

To the Steelers credit though, they also disposed of several playoff teams this year, iNCluding a 43-23 win over these Ravens as well as finishing the year with 4 straight wins with two of those coming over the Bengals and one over a decent Chiefs team that just missed making the daNCe.

But you don’t have to look too far into the series history in this one to see that this Game is likely to be a close one decided late. Sure, the margins were a bit more then they usually are in this series in this years two Games, but take a look at the recent history: 22-20, 19-16, 23-20, 13-10, 23-20, 35-7, 31-24, 13-10, 17-14, 23-20, 20-17, 23-14, 13-9, 23-20.

So that’s the last 14 Games in this series, excluding this years Game, where each team was able to extend a margin. Is that ridiculous or what? 11 of the 14 were decided by a field goal or less, one was decided by 4 points and two were larger margins. Talk about a nip and tuck series. So why not one more close one?

No need to buck a trend like that, especially when a play on the underdog Ravens is warranted, and we believe it is.

A look at yards per point numbers when using the entire seasons worth of data and we see the Ravens with a 14.3 on offense and a 17.9 on defense for a +3.6 differential. That 17.9 defensive number by the way, is good for 4th overall in the NFL and 2nd among playoff teams. Exactly the kind of defensive number you want heading into the playoffs. The Steelers numbers are 15.1 and 15.4 which is just about average.

If we break those numbers down and take the Steelers home numbers and the Ravens away numbers, they change slightly in favor of the Steelers, but not enough to make a differeNCe. The Ravens numbers are 13.9 and 14.4 while the Steelers are 13.2 and 15.

Lastly, if we take only the last 7 Games for each team to measure how each is doing more recently, we again have to give the nod to Baltimore with a 14.9 and 17.5 compared to the Steelers 15.1 and 16.5. The Ravens 2nd half of the season numbers stay pretty consistent with their season numbers, as do the Steelers.

When we use any time frame listed above, and make a line using the yards per point numbers, in every instaNCe, the line would be anywhere from pick em to Pittsburgh favored by -1 to -1.5 points, making the +3 here very attractive with the underdog Ravens. Our NFL model also agrees, predicting a final score of 25-25.

The above stats only verify what the feeling has been here all season long. And that feeling is that the Ravens are the better football team. No easy task beating the Steelers in Pittsburgh in playoff Game however it’s important to note that this Steelers buNCh is no where near as talented as past Steelers playoff teams. Ravens +3

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