Ravens Host Steelers In AFC North Tussle

Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers meet the Baltimore Ravens in an early season clash.

Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers meet the Baltimore Ravens in an early season clash.

Division rivals meet Thursday as the Baltimore Ravens host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the opening game of Week 2 in the National Football League.

Kickoff at M&T Bank Stadium is scheduled for 8:25 p.m. ET.

Rivalry will be a common theme for the much maligned Thursday Night Football this season, with all but one contest – a Week 14 showdown between the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears – featuring intra-division matchups. It all begins tonight with what promises to be a hard-hitting affair in the AFC North.

The NFL Landscape

While one week’s worth of football is by no means a reliable sample size, early indications would suggest that the AFC North is going to feature yet another tight race.

In Week 1, Pittsburgh managed to fend off an unexpected comeback by the Cleveland Browns, narrowly winning the game 30-27.

Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals earned a rare win in Baltimore, defeating the Ravens 23-16 to kick start the season the right way.

Baltimore (0-1, 0-1 home) will now look to earn a home win at the second time of asking, while Pittsburgh (1-0, 0-0 road) will look to head home with a road victory, an accolade it only achieved in three of eight attempts a season ago.

Baltimore has had the added pressure of having had to cope with the Ray Rice media circus this week. Ravens’ players may have avoided the brunt of the controversy and questioning, but they were still close to their now ex-running back and will have had plenty to be distracted by.

Reports suggest it’s been business as usual for John Harbaugh’s side, but that remains to be seen. For one thing, the Ravens need to address a deficiency at running back, not only for Thursday’s game – which Rice was scheduled to miss via suspension anyway – but heading forward.

Head-to-Head

Pittsburgh owns a 23-16 advantage in the all-time head-to-head between these division rivals, but is an even 9-9 when the two sides play in Baltimore. A .500 record on the road is nothing to be embarrassed by, particularly in this matchup.

The two sides split a pair last season, each winning at home. That makes it 12 times in 16 seasons the two have shared the spoils, which says a lot about the parity between the two sides. It’s safe to assume that whichever side leaves M&T Bank Stadium with the win has a good chance of being on the losing end of things when the two sides meet in Pittsburgh on November 2.

How much of a distraction will Ray Rice's dismissal cause to the Ravens?

How much of a distraction will Ray Rice’s dismissal cause to the Ravens?

Injury Report

As is the norm, Wednesday’s status reports from both teams featured a bevy of names, but things look mostly stable for both sides.

Pittsburgh will be without running back Diri Archer (ankle) and wide receiver Lance Moore (groin). Baltimore has cornerback Lardarius Webb (back) listed as questionable.

Check out the full injury report

Betting Report

Below you’ll find Betting Sports’ breakdown of odds and betting trends.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens odds for 09/11/2014

Moneyline: Baltimore (-133) opened as a narrow favorite over Pittsburgh (+120) on the moneyline. At the time of writing, that lead has been stretched with the Ravens currently sitting at -140 with TopBet.

Baltimore is 8-3 in its last 11 home games against the Steelers.

Spread: The spread opened at 2.5 and has subsequently climbed to 3.

Neither Baltimore nor Pittsburgh was successful in covering the spread in Week 1.

A season ago, the Ravens finished 7-9-0 ATS while the Steelers compiled a 9-7-0 ATS record.

Pittsburgh is 3-1-1 ATS in its last five games against the Ravens, and have covered in three straight. The Steelers are also 5-1-0 ATS in their last six trips to Baltimore, making them a good bet to cover on Thursday.

Total: The total opened at 43.5 and has climbed to 44.5.

The total went over in the Steelers’ season opener against the Browns, and under in Baltimore’s game with Cincinnati.

Pittsburgh split the over/under evenly a year ago, while Baltimore finished 7-8-1 in favor of the under.

The total has gone over in five of the last seven head-to-head matchups, and four of Pittsburgh’s last five trips to Baltimore.

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