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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens Point Spread - Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS)
Week 4 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 1, 2017 at 1PM EST
Where: MT&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland
TV: CBS

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: PIT -2.5/BAL +2.5
Over/Under Total: 44.5

The Pittsburgh Steelers come to MT&T Bank Stadium on Sunday to face the Baltimore Ravens in AFC North action in week five. The Ravens are coming back from London after a loss that was off-the-charts. After two impressive wins to start the season, they tied their worst-ever loss as a franchise in a 44-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. They look to atone for that this week against the incoming Steelers. On Sunday, the Steelers were also well out-of-range, losing in overtime to the Bears on the road, 23-16. They look for better, again on the road this week for the third time in the first four games of the season.

Baltimore in week three underlines the trouble in betting NFL games, even though we did take Jacksonville and the points. They missed the point spread by 40 points! And for it to happen to a Jaguars team that was blown out the previous week adds more kookiness to it. Granted, it was in London and that adds a layer of unpredictability to games, but this is a Ravens team that had shined in their first two games, allowing a combined total of ten points. In allowing 44 to the Jaguars, they were half-dead on the field, completely uncommitted to the task at hand. For as much as there was positivity in weeks one and two, week three showed he Ravens have a ways to go before becoming anything resembling a legit contender.

The Baltimore offense was awful on Sunday. Flacco didn't complete a pass until late in the second quarter. Flacco's stat line was comical, as he was 8-for-18 passing with 28 yards and two picks. They didn't cross midfield until the third quarter and certainly didn't show the English NFL fans much at Wembley. They had some nice runs by Alex Collins, who rushed for 82 yards on 9 carries. But most of the weapons were shelved, as the offense seemed to be stuck in reverse the whole game. Flacco is still coming around from shoulder surgery and we see a Baltimore offense that is still working on things.

Maybe it's a good idea to take the London game and just throw it out. But it does show that this Ravens' defense might not be as bankable as originally thought. They really looked to be the goods in weeks one and two, showing some of the fire that characterized some of their championship teams of the past. But where were they on Sunday? CJ Mosley is a force in the middle, with Terrell Suggs still a viable pass-rusher. The secondary looked tough with Eric Weddle, Tony Jefferson, Ladarius Webb, Jimmy Smith, and Brandon Carr, along with a lot of depth behind them. Obviously, we are now faced with the question of which defense will show up for week four? Will it be the dominant defense that allows almost nothing? Or will we see the group from this past game that couldn't stop a nose-bleed?

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It's not like we haven't seen this unevenness before from the Steelers in the past several seasons. They are still a high-powered offense and will likely figure into the postseason discussion this season. That doesn't mean they won't fire off a dud every now and then and losing to a winless Bears team on Sunday would certainly qualify. Ben Roethlisberger was off his best form on the day and the Pittsburgh run-defense was stymied by the Bears and their top two backs. They look for better results against a Baltimore team that is at home, but coming off a whopping loss in London.

The Pittsburgh offense has a lot of explosive potential—a great quarterback, among the best receiver and running back in the biz with Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell, as well as a thick supporting cast of players who aid the cause. But there seems to be a chasm in the application of all these tools and sometimes, the formula for success falls flat. They should be better than they've shown this season, scoring 21, 26, and then 17 points to open the season. Considering defensive scores, they haven't surpassed 20 points on the season on offense. The line missed Marcus Gilbert at right tackle on Sunday, but there should still be enough juice up-front. It's unclear what he issue is. One should expect Le'Veon Bell to snap into form sooner than later. That could help bring more people into the aerial game not named Antonio Brown, who had ten catches for 110 yards and a TD on Sunday. The problem was that no one else really got involved in a substantive way. This is an ongoing issue. With guys like Martavis Bryant, Eli Rogers, rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster, TE Jesse James, and one of the best pass-catching backs in Bell, one tends to expect a better aerial showcase than what we generally see. The ceiling is high, but guessing how close they get to that ceiling on a given week is the real test.

The Steelers defense is really the uncelebrated part of the team, able to carry the load when the erratic offense doesn't really fire. They allowed a total of 27 points in the first two games of the season, before the Bears scored 23 in the overtime loss on Sunday. Still, holding Chicago to 17 in regulation should have been enough. The run-defense was dicey on Sunday and after allowing 148 combined yards rushing in games one and two, they gave up 220 on Sunday, including a 19-yard TD run by Jordan Howard in OT to end matters. It doesn't help that they're playing without two key members of the front-seven with Stephon Tuitt and TJ Watt out of action and hopefully returning soon. To their credit, the defense held Mike Glennon to just over 100 yards through the air. And despite the loss, they got good games from linebackers Ryan Shazier and Bud Dupree, along with safety J.J. Wilcox, who had an interception.

The season has started off strange league-wide in the NFL with some completely senseless results that no one could possibly see coming. We see a ton of point spreads being off by miles. Last week, Baltimore and Pittsburgh missed covering the spread by a combined 54 points. I see things normalizing a little this week for this divisional spot. Sure, the Ravens are returning from a tough London game, but the Steelers didn't have a picnic on their hands either with a tough overtime loss in Chicago. While the Baltimore defense should be a lot more-formidable this week. I see Bell and a few aerial pieces for Pittsburgh snapping into shape, as they get the win and cover in Baltimore.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Pittsburgh Steelers minus 2.5 points. Bet the Pittsburgh vs. Ravens game for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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