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NFL Week 7 Game Preview: Ravens vs. Steelers


Winning back-to-back titles in any professional sport is never easy, but such a feat is especially difficult in the NFL. This is something the Baltimore Ravens are learning this season, as their Super Bowl defense has gotten off to a shaky 3-3 start.

Then again, things could worse. The Ravens could be 1-4 like their division rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who believe it or not, are on a bit of a high after winning their first game of 2013 last week. At 2.5 games back of the AFC North-leading Bengals, the playoffs are still not out of the reach for the Steelers, but they’ll need to defend their home turf against Baltimore on Sunday if they want to avoid missing the postseason for a second consecutive year.

Surprisingly, that home-field advantage is enough to give the Steelers a one-point edge this Sunday, even though Pittsburgh has failed to win a home game in 2013 (0-2). The perplexing line likely has to do with the inconsistency of the Ravens. Like bettors this season, odds makers seemingly don’t know what to do with Baltimore, which still has loads of talent from its championship team, but sometimes fails to show up – especially on the road, where it is 1-2 this season.

But before we agree with odds makers that this game is a toss-up, let’s take a look at what we do know about these teams. While turnovers have been a big problem for the Steelers this season, they do appear to have the upper hand in at least one match-up – that being their passing attack versus Baltimore’s lackluster pass defense. Pittsburgh comes into this weekend’s battle ranked 7th in the NFL in passing yards and should have success against the league’s 17th best pass defense.

On the other hand, Pittsburgh’s complete lack of a ground game (31st in NFL) will make it tough to move the ball against Baltimore’s stout front seven, which has held opponents to fewer than 99 yards per game (8th in NFL). As we know, running the ball is paramount to success in the NFL, as it helps set up the rest of a team’s offense. Since the Steelers have failed to produce rushing yards this season, it’s no wonder they are 1-4.

Unfortunately for the Ravens, their run game isn’t much to be proud of either. Baltimore ranks just 27th in rushing yards this season, but it may be able to improve its average against a toothless Pittsburgh front that ranks 22nd in defending the run.

After looking at the numbers and the talent that each team is boasting, it’s still somewhat of a mystery as to how the Steelers ended up on the favorite side of this match-up. Bettors may still be hesitant to wager on the inconsistent Ravens, but inconsistent is still more desirable than being flat out bad, which is what we could easily call the 2013 Steelers.

Take Baltimore to cover +1 and beat Pittsburgh outright this weekend.

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