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NFL Free Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens

Prediction Machine NFL Free Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens (BAL -3.5, O/U 46.5)

The undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers hit the road to Baltimore where they’ll face off with the division rival Ravens. Unanimous 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson will lead the 5-1 Ravens out of their bye in pursuit of a win with massive playoff implications with Pittsburgh sitting atop the AFC North at 6-0.

This is likely to be a classic AFC North grudge match, as both teams come in sporting top-tier defenses that feature extremely physical and aggressive styles. The teams sit atop the NFL in blitz rate with Baltimore (46.1%) leading the way and Pittsburgh (44.3%) right behind them.

There also shouldn’t be many surprises from either sideline considering it will be the 25th regular-season meeting between Mike Tomlin and John Harbaugh (Tomlin leads 13-11). Sportsbooks are anticipating a tight one in Baltimore as well, listing the Ravens as 3.5-point favorites with a modest total of 46.5 points.

Our model projects a final score of 23.9-18.6 in favor of Baltimore, and while we have a slight edge against the spread, our model is identifying an even larger position on the total in this game. With 42.5 projected points and a current OVER/UNDER sitting at 46.5, we have a strong edge on the UNDER in this matchup. Our model suggests a $127 wager on UNDER 46.5 for an average $100 bettor.

Prediction Machine’s NFL model was 129-75 ATS (63.2%) for +26.85 units and 117-98 (54.4%) on O/Us for +21.04 units in the 2019-20 season, producing a total profit of $4,789. Head over to predictionmachine.com/pricing and sign up to receive every NFL prediction.

Why will the total go UNDER?

  • Not only do Pittsburgh and Baltimore both sport elite defenses, their offenses have been mediocre so far in 2020. Baltimore enters the matchup 19th in the NFL with 5.7 yards per play, while Pittsburgh is down at 25th with 5.3 yards per play. Both defensive units have been amazing on a per play basis, with Pittsburgh allowing just 4.9 yards per play (third-fewest) and Baltimore allowing 5.1 yards per play (sixth-fewest). Both defenses hold the upper hand heading into Sunday.
  • As mentioned in the intro, Baltimore (46.1%) and Pittsburgh (44.3%) blitz at the highest rates in the NFL. That strategy has proven successful for both teams, with Pittsburgh sitting atop the NFL with an 11.4 percent sack rate and Baltimore not far behind in fifth with an 8.66 percent sack rate. Even when they don’t sack the quarterback, they’re still applying plenty of pressure. Pittsburgh leads the NFL in pressure percentage on opposing QB dropbacks (37.6%) and Baltimore is – you guessed it – second with a 29.2 percent pressure rate (data from Pro Football Reference). Sacks are near immediate drive killers and consistent pressure should stall even more drives to help the total go UNDER.
  • When betting UNDERs, it’s no secret we want the clock to run between snaps as much as possible. The good news for us is that both teams love to milk the clock by running the football and combine to operate at a below-average pace on offense. Baltimore ranks first in the NFL with 50.1 percent of its offensive plays ending in a rushing attempt and Pittsburgh is at eighth with a 45.2 percent rushing play rate on the season. In terms of situation-neutral pace, Pittsburgh is 12th-fastest in the NFL with 29.61 seconds per play on average, but Baltimore is well below the league average of 29.91 seconds/play at 30.92 seconds/play (10th-slowest), based on data from Football Outsiders.

How to bet the spread in Steelers vs Ravens:

Prediction Machine’s NFL model projects a final score of 23.9-18.6 in favor of the Ravens. With a 5.3-point projected margin of victory and a current spread of 3.5 points, we have a slight edge on the Ravens in this one. Our model suggests a $28 wager on BALTIMORE -3.5 for $100 average bettors.