Recommended Wager: Pittsburgh (+3.5) over Baltimore

Pittsburgh @ Baltimore
Wager: PIT +3.5
Strength: 2.20

Key Injuries:
Pittsburgh Steelers: (Week 4 bye)
-CB Mike Hilton (shoulder) was injured week 6 and INACTIVE week 7 after not practicing all week. He is QUESTIONABLE after being limited in practice.
IR: RT Zach Banner (season ending – ACL), G Stefen Wisnewski (pectoral), LB Devin Bush (ACL – season ending)

Baltimore Ravens: (Week 7 bye)
-RB Mark Ingram II (ankle) was injured week 6. He is OUT week 7 after missing practice all week.
-DT Derek Wolfe (neck/concussion) was INACTIVE week 6. He’s will return week 7.
IR: DT Brandon Williams (COVID-19), CB Tavon Young (ACL – Season Ending)

Spread watching: The line opened Sunday Night with the Ravens getting 6 points. It was bet down to 3.5 by Monday evening. Baltimore is currently 4 points favorites.

Matchup Breakdown:
When Pittsburgh has the ball:
The Steelers offense is sitting at 17th in DVOA and 10th in EPA/play. Football Outsider’s gives them a ranking of 10th for their more predictive “DAVE” stat, so I think it’s safe to call them a fringe top 10 offense. Ben Roethlisberger has been a low aDOT, high completion percentage game manager. His aDOT of 7.0 is 7th lowest in the league, as is his expected completion percentage. Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster are his security blankets — both players are running shorter to intermediate routes. When Ben has gone deep, it’s mostly been to rookie Chase Claypool. Due to injuries, the offensive line has areas of weakness that can be exploited. Despite this, James Connor is still averaging 4.7 yards per carry on the ground.

The Ravens have a solid all around defense – ranking 3rd in both DVOA and EPA/play. They don’t have too many studs on the defensive line, but they love to blitz, which makes it easier on the edge guys to bring pressure. They did trade for Yannick Ngakoue last week, who should slide in as their top edge rusher. Matthew Judon typically has that distinction, but his pressure numbers are more indicative of the blitz happy scheme — his PFF pass rush grade is a mere 56.8. The Ravens can afford to be blitz happy because they have confidence in their back end to hold up — Marlon Humphries (slot), Jimmy Smith, and Marcus Peters are traditionally tough matchups. Peters, however, is having a tough year — his PFF coverage grade of 46.8 ranks 65th of 77 qualifiers. It should be a fun matchup.

When the Ravens have the ball:
The Ravens offense has been surprisingly mediocre this season, ranking 19th in DVOA and 16th in EPA/play. Lamar Jackson hasn’t quite been the same throwing the ball — he’s completing just 63% of his passes, which is 1.3% lower than what the NextGenStats team would expect. 4% of his passes have also been deemed turnover worthy by PFF, and his passing grade of 75.4 is 13th best in the league. His running game is still on point, however — he’s gaining 6.9 (nice) yards per attempt on 36 carries. The receiving options are more or less just Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews. On the ground, Gus Edwards will get the bulk of the work with Mark Ingram out. Their offensive line is very good, but they have weaknesses at RG and C (Tyre Phillips and Matt Skura) that the Steelers can look to exploit.

Those holes along the offensive line for the Ravens aren’t easy to exploit, but if anyone can do it, it’s the Steelers. The Steelers have the best pass rush in football per PFF/anyone with a brain. They somehow have 4 players over 20 pressures on the year (Stephon Tuitt has 34, TJ Watt has 31, Bud Dupree has 27, and Cameron Heyward has 22). They have a decent enough secondary — there aren’t any real strengths but there aren’t any weaknesses either. They’ll continue to rely on their dominant pass rush until someone can prove it ineffective — the Steelers are ranked 2nd in DVOA and 4th in EPA/play.

This should be a fun one, let’s hope it stays within a field goal.

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