NFL Week 1 Pick – Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens
VietBet Point spread: Baltimore -2.5
The Pittsburgh Steelers kick-off the 2011 regular season by renewing their AFC North rivalry with the Baltimore Ravens this upcoming Sunday afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium. Game time is scheduled for a 1 p.m. (ET) start and it will be broadcast nationally on CBS.
Pittsburgh will have a chance to dispel any concern of a lingering hangover from losing last season’s Super Bowl 31-25 to Green Bay as a three-point underdog if it can get off to a fast start with a win on Sunday. The Steelers finished the 2010 regular season with a 12-4 record overall, which included an impressive 7-1 straight-up record on the road.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did a good job managing the offense last season with a unit that was ranked 14th in passing and 11th in running the ball. His workman-like approach minimized mistakes and capitalized on opportunities, but it was the Pittsburgh defense that remained the primary strength of this team. It finished the year ranked second overall and first in points allowed. With most of the roster intact, it should once again be ranked near the top of the NFL in 2011.
Baltimore fully realizes that trying to get to the Super Bowl on the road is a very difficult task to say the least. The Ravens have made it to the postseason three straight seasons as a wildcard team and all three times were eliminated in a road loss. Last season was especially painful with a 31-24 loss to the Steelers as a 3.5-point road underdog in the Divisional Round.
The key to winning, not just this game, but enough games to overtake Pittsburgh in the division, could weigh heavily on quarterback Joe Flacco’s ability to play more consistent from one week to the next. His overall numbers in 2010 were respectable with 3,622 yards passing for 25 TD’s, but he needs to rise to the occasion in big games such as this. The addition of fullback Vonta Leach and wide receiver Lee Evans should help Flacco in this task.
Head-to-head, the Steelers have won seven of the last 10 games SU and are 6-3-1 against the spread. The total has gone ‘over’ in six of the 10 meetings, but stayed ‘under’ in both regular season games last year.
In a very tight series in recent years, the average margin of victory in four of the last five games has been three points. Bet on this trend holding true this Sunday with the Ravens squeaking out the win by, you guessed it, three-points.
The NFL Pick: Baltimore 20 Pittsburgh 17
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