Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens kicks off this Saturday (01/06/24) at 4:30pm EST in Baltimore Maryland as a home game for the Ravens. Get Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens predictions and best bets below as our best bet is on the Ravens +3.5.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens Prediction & Best Bet
Editor’s note: Lamar Jackson is sitting this one out
It’s one of the hardest weeks to handicap as some teams have locked their position in the playoffs while others still have a chance to sneak in. This game exemplifies that reality as the Ravens locked up the number one overall seed in the AFC while the Steelers are on the outside looking in with hopes of nabbing the seventh seed. They still need to beat the Ravens as well as get some outside help from others but makes this spread that much more interesting knowing it’s the Steelers starters vs the Ravens backups.
The issue for Pittsburgh is that the Ravens backups are not much more of a drop off in terms of production when compared to their starters. While not confirmed as of writing, it’s largely expected that the Ravens will play a majority of their starters a drive or two early in the game before pulling them for the playoffs. That allows Lamar to string together a drive or two to pad his lead for the MVP, while also potentially putting up points on the board to help secure this spread.
When Lamar and others are off the field, it will be up to the Ravens defense to keep this game tight. They are built to do just that as the Ravens backups have actually seen a moderate amount of playing time while their second level of the defense has dealt with injuries. That means their backups in the secondary have played a big part towards their current metrics, being a part of a defense that ranks top-3 in Def Pass DVOA, Def Pass EPA, and Def Pass Success Rate.
Even with Mason Rudolph elevating the Steelers pass attack over the past dew weeks, the Ravens secondary is still in a position to assert themselves in this game. With limited help from the pass attack, expect the Steelers offense to crumble as generating rush success should come with issues as well. The Ravens rank 10th in Def Rush DVOA to go along with their elite coverage marks, being more than capable of limiting the regressing Najee Harris and pass catching back Jaylen Warren.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens Prediction & Best Bet: Ravens +3.5
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens Betting Odds
With the Ravens resting their starters for a majority of the contest and Pittsburgh still battling for a playoff spot, oddsmakers lean towards the Steelers way by opening them as a -4 favorite. Bettors believe that spread opened a tad too high, backing the Ravens down to the current number of +3.5.
As for the total, oddsmakers believed points would be scored at a sluggish rate as they opened the number at 35. Bettors believe points will come at a slightly faster pace, betting the over up to as high as 36.5. This will be decided by Ravens backup quarterback Tyler Huntley to do his part towards the total, having to face a Steelers defense who ranks top-10 in Def DVOA.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens Key Injuries
On top of potential opt outs, both teams feature big names on their injury reports as Patrick Queen, Zay Flowers, Kyle Hamilton, Marlon Humphrey, and Minkah Fitzpatrick are all listed as questionable.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens Key Matchups
Can the Ravens continue to find rush success against the Steelers front seven?
Ravens Ground Game Vs. Steelers Front Seven
With backup quarterback Tyler Huntley expected to replace Lamar Jackson early into the contest, it’s safe to say that the Ravens offense will rely more heavily on their ground game to get the job done. That bodes well for their efforts to cover the spread, ranking first across the board in Rush DVOA, EPA, and Success Rate.
Gus Edwards scores his 13th rushing TD of the season 😤
He had 13 rushing touchdowns in his first four seasons COMBINED.
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) December 31, 2023
Better yet for the Ravens chances of keeping this game tight, the Steelers front seven has regressed in their efforts to stop the run. Heading into this contest, the Steelers rank 14th in Def Rush DVOA and 17th in Def Rush EPA. Not only should the Ravens find success on the ground, but this also limits potential turnover worthy plays by keeping the ball out of the air.