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Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore: Sunday Night Football Week 13 NFL Lines

Sunday Night NFL Betting – Steelers, Ravens Battle For AFC North Lead

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens are tied for the AFC North lead heading into the month of December. Their clash this Sunday night carries a great deal of weight.

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Week 13 Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Betting Matchup
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Date/Time: Sunday, December 5th, 8:20 PM ET
Venue: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland
Broadcast: NBC
Odds: Steelers +3, Ravens -3
Total: 40
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How Can Pittsburgh Win?

For Pittsburgh, it’s important to note that the early-season loss to Baltimore occurred without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was finishing his suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Now that Big Ben is back in the Steelers’  lineup, he’s obviously going to be tested by the Ravens’ physical and imposing defense. However, the best way for the Steelers to thrive on Sunday night is to pound Rashard Mendenhall between the tackles. Mendenhall ran for 151 yards against the Buffalo Bills last weekend in a gritty overtime win for Pittsburgh. If Mendenhall can be effective, the Ravens will have to load up the box, and that’s what will make Roethlisberger a lot more productive. Pittsburgh needs to stick to its blue-collar formula and allow its credentialed defense, under coordinator Dick LeBeau, to win this game.

How Can Baltimore Win?

It’s put-up-or-shut-up time for Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco. The Ravens have won a number of games this year in which Flacco – the rookie sensation of the 2008 season – hasn’t played all that well. Against Pittsburgh, Flacco has to come up big. Pittsburgh’s defense has flustered him in the past, and it stopped the Delaware product in the 2008 AFC Championship Game (referring to the 2008 season, not the actual year in which the game was played). Flacco has to avoid turnovers in this contest for Baltimore to feel good about its chances.

Outlook

December football games don’t mean much of anything to lower-division clubs, but they mean everything to teams fighting for a division championship. A division win guarantees at least one home playoff game and brings with it the possibility of a first-round bye in the NFL postseason.

For the Steelers and the Ravens, a moment of truth has arrived. With the AFC South and the AFC West both having horrible seasons, it’s very likely that this weekend’s game in Baltimore will determine one of the AFC’s two first-round byes. The other bye, interestingly enough, will be contested just one day later by the New York Jets and the New England Patriots. What’s important to note about this Pittsburgh-Baltimore battle is that the Ravens won the first game between these two teams, pulling out a 17-14 decision in Pittsburgh a few months ago. If the Ravens win this contest, they’ll essentially have a two-game lead over the Steelers because of the one-game edge in the conference standings plus the head-to-head tiebreaker if these teams finish with the same overall records. Baltimore has a lot to gain with a victory on its home field.

This one will play out differently than the first matchup. Flacco will falter and Pittsburgh’s defense will avenge the Steelers’ early-season loss. The Ravens are entirely capable of winning this game, but Pittsburgh is the more proven team with a history of greater success in meaningful games. Baltimore hasn’t made the Super Bowl in 10 years; the Ravens need to prove they can beat back the AFC franchise that’s won more Super Bowls than anyone else since the 2005 season. Take Pittsburgh on the road.

Pick: Steelers +3

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About Dave Golokhov AKA Vegas Dave

Dave Golokhov has written for Playboy.com, BETUS Sportsbook, Sportsfanmagazine.com, FOX, Askmen.com, Sports-central, and the FOXSports.com Funhouse.


Comments

Comments

  1. Name: Mark says:

    I don’t know who Runn Bengston is but he just mumbled: “Plus side: The next time Ben Roethlisberger is in a mugshot situation, it’s not matching up with the previous ones.” I like that

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