The Pittsburgh Steelers fight for their playoff lives on Sunday when they travel to the M&T Bank Stadium to take on the AFC’s top seed Baltimore Ravens.
The Steelers need to beat the Ravens to stay alive in their hunt for the final spot in the AFC playoffs. Meanwhile, Baltimore clinched the AFC Conference with a victory over the Cleveland Browns the last time out. With the top seed in their conference already in the bag, the ravens have announced that they will be resting Lamar Jackson and several key players to preserve their health for the postseason.
Steelers still Alive
The Pittsburgh Steelers are still alive in the race for the last playoff spot in the AFC. Pittsburgh will enter the postseason if they beat the Baltimore Ravens in their week 17 assignment this coming Sunday and if the Tennessee Titans lose to the Houston Texans. The Ravens have already clinched the #1 spot in the AFC and are merely completing their regular season schedule so that gives the Steelers a good chance at beating them.
Mason Rudolph won’t suit up for the Steelers because of a left shoulder injury. Instead, it will be Devlin Hodge who will be tasked to bring Pittsburgh to the promised land on Sunday. Hodge has thrown for a total of 968 yards with five touchdowns and eight interceptions on the season. The Steelers are 3-2 in the last five games where Hodge has played.
Pittsburgh ranks 31st in the league in passing at 193.6 passing yards. They are 26th in rushing at 90.4 yards per contest. The Steelers are 25th in the NFL in scoring at 18.6 points per outing and they are allowing their opponents to score an average of 18.3 points per game this season.
Odds from BetOnline as of 12/23/19
Ravens Clinch Top Spot
The Baltimore Ravens clinched the #1 playoff spot in the AFC Conference following their win over the Cleveland Browns last weekend. This is the first time in Ravens’ history that the team has earned the top seed in their conference. With their playoff position secure, the Ravens have announced that quarterback Lamar Jackson will sit out Sunday’s game against the Steelers.
Robert Griffin III will start behind center for the Ravens. Griffin has thrown for only a total of 129 passing yards with one touchdown and one interception. Lead running back Mark Ingram is also not going to play here as he is dealing with a calf injury. Ingram ranks second to Lamar Jackson in the team when it comes to rushing yards.
Baltimore ranks 25th in the league in passing at 209.6 yards per game. They are the top rushing team in the NFL at 204.9 yards per contest. The Ravens are also the top-scoring team in the NFL this season at 33.5 points per game and they are only allowing their opponents to score 18.1 points per outing.
Pittsburgh is 7-3 SU in their last 10 games played. The Steelers are 3-4 SU in seven road games played this season, and 16-3-1 SU in their last 20 games played against the AFC North Division. Baltimore is 10-0 SU in their last 10 games played. The Ravens are 6-1 SU in seven home games played this season. Head to head, the Ravens are 6-4 SU in their last 10 games played against the Steelers.
Mason Rudolph is out with a shoulder injury while running back James Conner is questionable with a quad issue. Center Maurice Pouncey is also dealing with a leg injury so the Steelers could be starting with a third-string QB and second-string center in a must-win game for them on Sunday.
The Ravens opened as -3 favorites but after the announcement that Lamar Jackson and a slew of key players will be sitting this game, they have become the underdogs in a game that is no-bearing to them after clinching the top playoff spot in the AFC. Aside from Jackson, the likes of Marshal Yanda, Brandon Williams, Mark Ingram and Earl Thomas won’t play on Sunday.
This game will be a battle of the reserves given Pittsburgh’s injuries and the Ravens resting their key players. It’s going to be a competitive game because you have players who are looking to prove themselves. However, the difference here is going to be the motive of both squads. Pittsburgh is fighting to stay alive in the playoffs while Baltimore is looking to stay healthy. The team who wants it more wins this.
Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers.
Other Bets To Make
The Steelers are 7-6-2 ATS in 15 games played this season. Pittsburgh is 3-3-1 ATS in seven road games played this season, and 5-10 ATS in their last 15 December games. The Ravens are 8-1 ATS in their last nine games played. Baltimore is 3-4 ATS in seven home games played this season, 6-0 ATS in their last six games played against the AFC Conference, and 10-5 ATS in their last 15 December games. Head to head, the Ravens are 6-2-2 ATS in their last 10 games played against the Steelers.
Odds from BetOnline as of 12/23/19
The Steelers will go all out for a win here because they need to win in Week 17 to keep their postseason aspirations alive. Baltimore will start Robert Griffin II at quarterback and Gus Edwards will be the team’s lead running back. Winning isn’t the goal here for Baltimore while for Pittsburgh, it’s a must-win game for them. Baltimore won’t give this game away but they won’t be able to offer much resistance given their lineup on Sunday.
Prediction: Steelers -1.5
The total has gone under in each of the last seven games played by the Steelers. The under is 5-0 in Pittsburgh’s last five games played on the road. The total has gone under in four out of the last six games played by the Ravens. The under is 4-3 in Baltimore’s seven home games played this season. Head to head, the under is 6-3-1 in the last 10 meetings between the Steelers and Ravens The total has gone under in their last five games played in Baltimore.
Odds from SportsBetting as of 12/23/19
These teams have combined to score an average of 46.0 points per game in their last 10 meetings and 42.67 points per game in their last three head to head encounters. However, the big factor in this game is that Lamar Jackson will be sitting out this game. While this is a must-win game for Pittsburgh, the main focus of Baltimore will be staying healthy for the playoffs and that said, they won’t be taking any unnecessary risks here. The under is 12-2 in Pittsburgh’s last 14 road games against AFC North. I’m leaning with the under.
Prediction: Under 38