Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Two of the NFL’s fiercest rivals face off as the Baltimore Ravens host the Pittsburgh Steelers in a week one NFL game. The Ravens are -2.5 favorites over the Steelers with an over/under point total set at 37.
The window of opportunity is closing for the current group of Baltimore Ravens and while last season they led at halftime of their playoff game against the Steelers, they were unable to close the deal and their season was over. QB Joe Flacco has another year under his belt and is emerging as a leader but he’s still missing the signature win on his resume. Ray Rice takes on an even bigger role than he has been carrying in the backfield as Willis McGahee is gone but Ricky Williams has been brought in to spell Rice. Baltimore picked up Bryant McKinnie off of the waiver wire from Minnesota and along with Mike Oher on the right side and Ben Grubbs, Matt Birk, and Marshal Yanda Baltimore is solid upfront. Perhaps the biggest move the Ravens have made is picking up wide receiver Lee Evans to play on the other side of Anquan Boldin to give them a real home run threat. No matter what the Ravens do offensively this will always be a team who is built on defense and the defense revolves around Ray Lewis who may be getting older but he hasn’t lost much. Ed Reed tries to play the full season after missing the first part of last year and along with Jameel McClain, Terrell Suggs, Holi Ngata and the rest of the Ravens defense this is a unit that their opponents will certainly still be feeling the next day. The big questions for Baltimore is can they avoid the big mistakes in the big games whether it be by penalty or anything else that have kept them from reaching their goal.
The Pittsburgh Steelers made it all the way to the Super Bowl a season ago but they didn’t finish the season as they had hoped as they lost to the Green Bay Packers. The Steelers fell behind early, mounted a comeback and just when it looked like they had all of the momentum a fumble turned it back in the Packers favor and the game was over. It was the first time losing in the Super Bowl for Ben Roethlisberger who had missed the first four games of the regular season. Rashard Mendedhall carried the ball well all season but his fumble is something he had to live with all season. Hines Ward’s role has been reduced as Mike Wallace has become Roethlisberger’s go to guy while tight end Heath Miller is another of Big Ben’s targets. Maurkice Pouncey solidified an already solid offensive line last season but he missed the Super Bowl with an injury but the Steelers are solid all the way across. Aaron Smith missed most of the season last year for Pittsburgh but he is back now along with Brett Kiesel and Casey Hampton. There isn’t a better group of linebackers in the NFL than the Steelers led by James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons, James Farrior, and Lamar Woodley and Troy Polamalu is the anchor of the secondary and the QB of the defense. If Pittsburgh can remain healthy, they will certainly have a say in who represents the AFC in the Super Bowl this year.
These are two teams who are built on defense and expect nothing less than a slugfest where defense rules the day. Take the under 37 here.