Steelers Vs. Ravens Preview (1/1/23): Betting Odds, Prediction, Depth Chart

It’s just one of those times where the stars align and we get a mega-matchup full of intrigue, in prime time no less. This weekend’s Sunday Night Football is no exception, as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens will meet in a major rivalry clash, with both teams in the midst of their own playoff races. For the Ravens, they’ll hope to win and advance to a winner-take-all AFC North championship game of sorts against the Bengals in their final game, while the Steelers, one game out of a playoff spot but owning no tiebreakers, need to win out to simply have any chance at the postseason. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks for this thrilling division rivalry matchup

Steelers Vs. Ravens Betting Odds

It’s always tough to make odds with uncertainty surrounding a quarterback- especially one like Jackson. But as of now, the Ravens are favored by 2.5 in this one. Unshockingly, the scoring total is set at 35; the Ravens of course might be missing their QB, and frankly, this matchup always turns into a bar fight.

Steelers Vs. Ravens Prediction

Naturally, when you’re starting a rookie QB who happened to be the first one picked in his draft, his level of success is going to be a big barometer when assessing your season. For the Steelers, that quarterback has been Kenny Pickett, and the results have been mixed to say the least. His numbers have been pretty poor overall, but he’s certainly passed the eye test at times and the team has had big moments with him at the helm. Still, until this past game he had yet to throw for 200 yards in a win, a pretty concerning indicator of the team’s ability to succeed when he’s a big part of the game plan. Things do seem to be coming together for the team; after a dreadful start to the season, they’ve won 4 of their last 5, including a win over Baltimore with Mitch Trubisky at the helm. It would be great to get the team’s young, presumably franchise QB into a playoff scenario, but even if they don’t get the help they need, winning in meaningful, pressurized situations to end the season would be a great building block for next year and beyond.

The quarterback position has also been at the forefront of dialogue surrounding the Ravens this season, although not for the reasons you’d like when you have a former MVP under center. Lamar Jackson has been in and out of the lineup with injuries, and there are rumblings that the ultra-talent has played his last game as a Raven. His status for this week is quite up in the air, although considering the fact that he has yet to be a part of Ravens practice, I would be preparing for life with Tyler Huntley. That hasn’t been a nightmare; he has yet to be really prolific, but the team is 3-1 in the games in which he’s been the leading passer, including that previous matchup with the Steelers. Whoever’s at quarterback, be ready for him to run, a tactic the Ravens employ better than basically anyone in the league.

Personally, I don’t want to bet a spread or moneyline on this one. I’d have my finger on the trigger to pick one side or another based on the Jackson news, but until that happens this is a tough one to play. That being said, even if he’s out I lean towards the Ravens -2.5. You stay inside of that key number of 3 points- but if you’re getting a different line consider Pittsburgh- so you’re in the money if they pick up a gritty home win just by virtue of another huge Justin Tucker kick, a scenario I would hate to bet against. The total is a bit more straightforward to me; even though it’s a low number, you have to go under in this head to head, but watch out as the number dips lower and lower, as this one could also be impacted by significant Jackson news; I wouldn’t really go lower than 32 or so.

Betting Trends

The Steelers are 4-1 ATS in their past 5 games, while the Ravens are 1-6-1 in their past 8 home games.

The under is undefeated in the Ravens’ past 4 games, and it’s 6-1 in the Steelers’ past 7 following a straight-up win

Key Injuries

Steelers Injuries: Ahkello Witherspoon (Q), Chris Wormley (O), Tre Norwood (O)

Ravens Injuries: Calais Campbell (Q), Marcus Peters (Q), Lamar Jackson (Q)

Key Matchups

Ravens Rushing Offense vs. Steelers Run Defense

Whether it’s traditional halfback rushing or QB-centric plays, the Ravens are excellent at running the football. PFF says they have the 8th best rushers in the league, as well as the second best run-blocking line; this has translated to the second most rushing yards per game in the league (166.0) at an impressive clip of 5.3 per carry. Jackson is actually the team’s leading rusher- he surely would have cracked the 1000-yard mark if healthy- but among backs, J.K. Dobbins, Kenyan Drake, and Gus Edwards have been almost equally productive. Dobbins is the lead back when healthy and has produced those numbers in fewer opportunities, but it’s a really competent three-headed monster for Baltimore, besides of course the rushing QBs. The run-blocking stars of the line have been Tyler Linderbaum at center, and right tackle Morgan Moses, both of whom have PFF run-blocking grades in the low to mid 80s. It’s a great rushing attack from top to bottom, and even with Jackson out, Baltimore can realistically assert themselves on the ground and simply control the game.

You may wonder why I’ve picked the under when the Ravens have such a great rushing attack; that would be because the Steelers have a stout run defense themselves. PFF rates them 7th in run defense, and they’ve allowed the sixth-fewest rushing yardage in the league (105.6 per game) despite trailing in many of their games. The Steelers have had solid contributors in run defense from all levels; Minkah Fitzpatrick has been his usual impressive self at safety, as he’s the team’s highest-rated run defender with a PFF score over 85. D-lineman Cam Heyward and linebacker Robert Spillane have also excelled; the two have yet to miss a tackle in over 400 combined run defense snaps. And of course, T.J. Watt is a presence, although he’s been perhaps a bit limited after returning from the IR. It’s always a tough day running against Pittsburgh, but they’ll have their hands full with one of the very best rushing offenses in all of football. Whoever’s at QB- but this rings especially true if it’s Huntley- it’s in the Steelers’ best interest to limit the run and force the ball into the air.

Steelers Rushing Offense vs. Ravens Run Defense

Surprise! In a major AFC North clash that just might feature one rookie QB and one backup, we’re going to talk about the run game on both sides. However, this matchup is going to be a bit less prolific than the last, although no less important. The Steelers offense is pretty average at everything overall, within that 14th-18th window for many metrics, but one thing they’re decidedly bad at is run-blocking, a task PFF estimates they are 26th-best at in the NFL. Overall, they ran for 115.4 yards per game, which was good for 18th in the league, on 4.1 yards per carry. In terms of bulk, Najee Harris has surely been the leader with 843 yards, but his figures of 3.7 yards per carry and just 6 rushing touchdowns so far are both disappointing numbers for such a promising player. Jaylen Warren has presented himself as the #2, although he doesn’t get too many rushes when Harris is active, and Pickett has been the only other meaningful rusher for the team, as he usually picks up a couple nice plays on the ground in a game.

They’ll be going against a very solid run defense in Baltimore, the 8th-best if you ask PFF, but one that’s allowing the third fewest yards per game in the NFL (87.5) on just 3.8 yards per carry. Roquan Smith has been an enormous asset since his arrival from Chicago, as he continues to be one of the better off-ball linebackers in football with a missed-tackle rate just north of 5%. Chuck Clark has also been very important in run defense, coming into the box from his safety position. Calais Campbell, who is questionable in this one, has been a big presence on the d-line, and Patrick Queen has had an up-and-down campaign but is a constant contributor in the middle alongside Smith.The Steelers have been effective enough at picking up yards on the ground this year, but will they be able to establish the run on the road against a defense of this caliber, or will their shaky o-line hamper their efforts too much and force them to the air? Answering that question will go a long way towards finding a winner in this one.

Steelers Depth Chart

QB: Kenny Pickett
RB1: Najee Harris
RB2: Jaylen Warren
LWR: Diontae Johnson
RWR: George Pickens
SWR: Steven Sims
TE1: Pat Freiermuth

Ravens Depth Chart

QB: Lamar Jackson
RB1: J.K. Dobbins
RB2: Gus Edwards
LWR: DeSean Jackson
RWR: Demarcus Robinson
SWR: James Proche II
TE1: Mark Andrews

From starting my own blog in Middle School, to working on a friend’s in college, and finally joining the Lineups team this year, I’ve been writing about sports for over a decade and betting on them as long as I’ve been legally able. I graduated from the University of Michigan last year, where I took sports journalism classes alongside my business major. Having played and watched sports for almost my whole life, I aim to provide insight and entertainment, as well as profitable picks, in my writing about professional and collegiate leagues.

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