All eyes have been on Baltimore, Maryland in recent days and the attention has nothing to do with the game. As you know, Ray Rice is no longer a Raven but I think we’ve heard enough about that so let’s get to the games.
Pittsburgh (+3) at Baltimore (O/U 44.5) – Both teams opened at home last week where the Steelers hung on to beat Cleveland while the Ravens lost at home to Cincinnati. Rice wasn’t scheduled to play in this game regardless of the latest revelations because this would have been the second of his two game suspension. There’s no question that Baltimore had to have paid close attention to what Cleveland did to the Steelers’ defense in the second half of their game.
The Browns went exclusively to the hurry-up offense and Pittsburgh had no answer for it giving up 24 second half points. Now whether the Ravens choose to go that route is unknown but I do expect to see lots of misdirection and cutbacks which drove the Steelers crazy on Sunday. If Baltimore can find early success running the ball then the play-action that offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak loves will be available.
Offensively for Pittsburgh, Todd Haley will no doubt do everything he can to get the ball to Le’Veon Bell who nearly had 200 yards of offense on Sunday. The question for the Steelers is how much no-huddle offense will they deploy? I thought they went away from it too soon on Sunday and it nearly cost them. QB Ben Roethlisberger is a better signal-caller when he commands the offense in the no-huddle so it should be a staple.
The Ravens will obviously have to account for Bell but they can’t exactly abandon Antonio Brown either. The Pro Bowler caught five balls for over 100 and a TD on Sunday.
If you’re expecting a tight game then that means kickers will come into play. Shaun Suisham has been very reliable for the Steelers but Justin Tucker of Baltimore has a much bigger leg. He can easily make a 50+ yarder if necessary to win the game.
Trends: The total has gone OVER in five of Pittsburgh’s last six games… Baltimore is 1-4 against the spread in their last five home games… The Steelers are 3-8 straight up in their last 11 games in Baltimore… The total has gone OVER in four of Baltimore’s last five games at home when playing the Steelers.
The Pick: These are not the same teams they were three or four years ago and both rely on offense. That’s why the OVER is a great play. I also like the Steelers getting the points in another close one between the two rivals.
Houston (+18.5) at BYU (O/U 57) – Last year, these two groups of Cougars hooked up in an epic 47-46 win for BYU in Houston. I don’t expect that close of a game this time around as BYU welcomes Houston to Provo. Houston dropped a very surprising opener to UT-San Antonio and then bounced back to defeat Grambling 47-0.
This will be the home opener for BYU as they’ve reached 2-0 by winning at UConn and at Texas where they dismantled the Longhorns 41-7 in front of the home crowd.
Trends: Houston is 3-6 straight up in their last nine games on the road… BYU is 17-3 straight up in their last 20 home games… Houston is 1-4 ATS in their last five games… BYU is 2-4-1 ATS in their last seven games overall.
The Pick: BYU is riding high after two big wins on the road. I like the OVER and I’m going to take BYU to cover.