NFL Wild Card Betting Preview: Ravens at Steelers

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5, 48 o/u)

Division rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore will go at it for the third time this season on Saturday night (8:15 p.m. Eastern on NBC).  The stakes are much higher in this Wild Card matchup though, as the loser goes home for the offseason and the winner moves on.

The two teams split the regular season series, with the home team blowing out the visitor in each game.

While the Ravens squeaked into the playoffs, Pittsburgh comes in roaring, having won four straight, including a 27-17 victory over the Bengals in the final week of the regular season. Pittsburgh was just a three-point home favorite against Cincy, but forced three turnovers en route to an ATS win.

However, it’s not all good news for the Steelers heading into the postseason, as they lost star running back Le’Veon Bell to injury in that game and his status for Saturday is in doubt.  The team signed veteran Ben Tate to join Josh Harris and Dri Archer in the running back rotation.  All three may see action on Saturday even if Bell suits up, as the Pittsburgh star won’t be at full speed.

Bell’s absence (or limitations) will undoubtedly put pressure on the Steelers’ passing game, led by wide receiver Antonio Brown and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, to produce at an even higher clip.  Brown played at an All-Pro level this year, leading the league with 123 receptions and 1,698 yards.  He added 13 touchdown grabs.

Baltimore had to come back from a late deficit against the Browns in week 17 just to make the playoffs.  With new life, the Ravens will give Pittsburgh an extremely heated battle, which is the norm for these two teams.

“I think [we] can be very dangerous,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.  “We all know the history.  It’s a 0-0 tournament right now.  We’ve been on the road plenty of times in the playoffs as a group.  We’re as dangerous as anybody else, at least.  So, I’m excited to be coaching the Ravens in the playoffs, I can tell you that.”

Pittsburgh is currently a 3.5-point favorite for Saturday, with the over/under at 48.

(Photo credit: Andy from Pittsburgh, United States (the snap) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)

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