NOTE: This game has been postponed due to COVID-19. It will now be played at 1:15pm ET on Sunday 29th, November.
In what was supposed to be the battle for the top spot in the AFC North, the third and final 2020 Thanksgiving Football game is now the battle for the Baltimore Ravens to stay in the playoff picture.
Baltimore has been one of the biggest let downs of the season and in the last four weeks have gone just 1-3, which started with a 24-28 week 8 home loss to, none other than, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
That contest was an absolute grind with turnovers the only thing stopping the Ravens from winning the game, but it is what has happened since then that is the worry.
Will Baltimore be able to enact revenge and ruin Pittsburgh’s perfect season or will Pittsburgh claim the season series and remain undefeated. We break both sides and what the result will look like.
After taking the league by storm last season by going 14-2, through 10 matches the Ravens have already doubled their losses and Lamar Jackson isn’t looking anything like a quarterback that won MVP just ten months ago.
Baltimore comes into this one off a heartbreaking 24-30 overtime loss at home to the Tennessee Titans in which Jackson threw for just 186 yards and one touchdown. Meanwhile, the defense allowed Ryan Tannehill to throw for 259 yards and two touchdowns plus Derrick Henry to run for 133 yards and a touchdown.
The Ravens are a funny one to watch and pick because they have the best rushing offense in the league, thanks to Jackson, but also have the second worst passing offense in the league, thanks to Jackson.
To make things worse, their leading rusher J.K Dobbins and primary backup Mark Ingram have tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the matchup. While other players have been placed on the list after being named as close contacts, including defensive tackle Brandon Williams.
Tune in on CBS! pic.twitter.com/QJBFhHegjQ
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 22, 2020
Despite losing to Pittsburgh in Week 8, Baltimore actually dominated the game. They had 457 total yards to 221, 25 first downs to 19 and had possession for over 10 more minutes than the Steelers, but Jackson had four turnovers, including one on the potential game winning drive in the dying seconds to seal their fate.
Baltimore sits at 6-4 on the season, tied for the last wildcard slot and a game behind the Cleveland Browns who have jumped to second in the AFC North. Baltimore has the easiest remaining schedule of all AFC wildcard hopefuls, but a loss here would be damaging for confidence and self belief.
The last remaining undefeated team, Pittsburgh, sits at 10-0 for the first time in their gloried history.
The Steelers get back home after travelling to Jacksonville, where they easily took care of the Jaguars, winning 27-3. This was a week after a 26-point victory over divisional rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals.
Baltimore obviously offers up a much tougher test than either of those games and history shows that. Since the start of the 2018 season, Baltimore has a 3-2 series lead over Pittsburgh and is 2-1 since Jackson took over as starting quarterback.
Big Ben Roethlisberger didn’t play in either contest last year and is one of the main reasons for the Steelers’ success this season. In his last three games, Roethlisberger is averaging 302 passing yards per game while throwing nine total touchdowns and just one interception.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 25, 2020
Defense has been one of Pittsburgh’s main calling cards this season, allowing the fourth fewest yards per game and allowing the least amount of points per game in the league.
They are led by T.J. Watt, 9 sacks, Bud Dupree, 8 sacks, and Stephon Tuitt, 7 sacks, who come in at equal third, equal fifth and equal ninth in the league respectively. Minkah Fitzpatrick is also bursting onto the stage as one of the best safeties in the league with four interceptions, tied for third most.
Despite being undefeated, Pittsburgh is just one game ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs for top spot in the AFC and the all important wildcard round bye. Including this week, the Steelers have to play one more team with a winning record than the Chiefs, so a win over Baltimore is extremely important in the grand scheme of things.
- Since 2009 there have been 33 Thanksgiving games and the home team has been the favorite in 20 of them.
- In those games, home favorites are 14-6 straight up but just 10-10 against the spread.
- Since the start of 2018, Baltimore is 5-1 against the spread when being an underdog of three or more points.
- Pittsburgh is 0-4-2 against the spread the last six times they have hosted Baltimore.
- The Ravens are 2-2-1 against the spread on the road this season, while the Steelers are 4-1 against the spread at home.
- In their last six matchups, the total has gone over four times and under twice.
- In the last six Prime Time Thanksgiving games, the total has gone under in all six.
- In their last ten when favored by a field goal or more, Pittsburgh is 9-1 straight up and 6-4 against the spread.
- Big Ben is 9-5 in games played on Thursday, while going 8-5-1 against the spread and 6-7-1 in totals markets.
- Lamar Jackson has played on Thursday just twice, going 1-1 straight up and against the spread, with both games going over.
NFL Picks & Predictions
This was marked as the Ravens’ revenge game but COVID-19 has gone and ruined that. Pittsburgh opened as just 2-point favorites but the spread is now out to 5-points.
Pittsburgh proved that they cause trouble for Lamar, by picking him off twice and causing three fumbles by the quarterback, with the Steelers taking two of them. They have the seventh best rushing defense in the league and Baltimore is now losing two of their best running backs.
Over 59% of the bets are going to the Steelers covering the spread, but Baltimore’s defense is incredible just in their own right.
When the two sides met, the Ravens’ defense kept the Pittsburgh offense to their lowest total yards for the season by a large amount. It was also one of just six games where Pittsburgh had a turnover.
With the COVID-19 injury list growing for the Ravens, the Steelers should keep rolling on, but their Baltimore’s defense will keep this close throughout.
UPDATE: Given this game has been moved to Sunday due to the numerous COVID-19 cases in the Baltimore camp, it gives them time to get healthy, with hopefully J.K. Dobbins being able to suit up.
In saying that, the delay has made Pittsburgh angry and hungry, and the predictions below stay the same.
Straight Up: Pittsburgh Steelers (-240)
Spread: Baltimore Ravens +5.0 (-110)
Total: Over 45 (-105)
Due to the uncertainty because of the COVID-19 tests, there were no player prop bets available at the time of publishing.
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*Odds correct at time of publication, courtesy of PointsBet.
Image by: Brook Ward