When you’re cutting up the Thanksgiving turkey this Thursday, you’ll definitely be doing it in front of the television.
Hardcore members of the NFL betting community will be taking time throughout the holiday daytime games to steal glances at the TV in the living room or check for updates on their phone. However, come night time, all eyes will be glued to the big screens when Baltimore and Pittsburgh take the field, with Pittsburgh entering as a +3 dog at the Bovada Sportsbook.
These AFC North rivals share matching 5-6 records and are both quickly running out of time to catch division leader Cincinnati. However, with more than half the AFC sporting under-.500 records, including six at 5-6 and three at 4-7, the wild-card playoff berths are still wide open.
Both Baltimore and Pittsburgh have fallen far. As defending champions, the Ravens are in serious danger of succumbing to the Super Bowl curse. Pittsburgh went to three Super Bowls between 2005 and 2010 and won two of them, but they are getting weaker, having fallen lower in the standings every year since.
Both teams need to approach this game as a potential turning point in their respective seasons. Ben Roethlisberger has been fine for the Steelers, but at this point they’ll need him to be the Roethlisberger he was in 2009, except this time actually carry his team with him. With three Steelers victories in a row, it looks like the quarterback already may be doing exactly that. Not that he’s been doing it alone, however. Antonio Brown‘s league-leading 80 catches for 1,044 yards has helped a bit.
A three-game win streak may not be the greatest thing to look at for a wild-card team, but considering Pittsburgh’s 0-4 and 2-6 records at the beginning of the season, it’s easy to understand why there are feelings of hope in Pittsburgh as the team climbs up the NFL moneyline. And if anybody can help his team break away from the pack of 5-6 records, it’s Ben Roethlisberger.
His counterpart, Joe Flacco, has been playing below Joe Flacco standards. With 2,742 yards, he’s on pace to pass his high point for passing yards in a season, but he’s also on pace for just 20 touchdowns — his second-lowest since he threw just 14 in his rookie season.
With Big Ben doing what he does best on offense, it will take the pressure off the defense to be as good as they’ve been lately. They’re giving up less than 24 points per game on average, and when you consider losses of 55-31 to New England and 40-23 to Chicago, that game average looks pretty good.
At 50-1 odds of winning Super Bowl XLVIII, there are worse long shots out there other than Pittsburgh. And with a three-point edge over Baltimore this Thursday and home games remaining against Miami and Cincinnati, now may be a good time to buy in to the Steelers once again. They’ve already topped the Ravens by a 19-16 score in Week 7 at home. Now would be a fine time for any of the wild-card hopefuls to break away from the pack, but if history is any indication, Pittsburgh is the one to keep your eye on.