2008 Season NFL Football Past Picks
September 29, 2008
Baltimore at Pittsburgh
Monday 09/29 08:35 PM Eastern
1 unit on Pittsburgh -6 (-110) (risk 1 to return 1) RESULT: LOSS
Baltimore's defense is being talked up again as they have held their first two opponents to just 10 points each. But let's not get too crazy about those games. They came against two of the worst offenses in the league in Cincinnati and Cleveland! The Bengals are averaging 13 ppg and Cleveland just 11.5 ppg after a quarter of the season. Anyone who witnessed their head-to-head battle yesterday is aware of how awful those offenses have been playing. So with an average of 12 ppg between them, and Baltimore holding them to 10ppg, what we really have is Baltimore "holding serve" in games one and two - nothing more. I give credit to Baltimore to put themselves in the position to be talked up on defense, but I need to see more. Right now, we just don't know how good they really are. They have the established "aura" of this defensive powerhouse, but where was it last yearwhen they layed a goose-egg on the road at 0-8 SU, and 0-8 ATS? They allowed 29.9 ppg on the road last year! Have they improved that much? Again, we just don't know yet, but everyone is already giving them credit for returning to form. The concern for Baltimore backers should be their offense. Joe Flacco has also been a good story, and the outward appearance is Baltimore finally has a QB. Granted, he hasn't lost them a game yet, but the reality is he is averaging just 5.4 yards per attempt and he has 0 TDs and two INTs. And those numbers came at home versus two teams that have not won a game, outside of playing each other (combined record now 1-7). Matt Stover is 1-3 with a longest FG of 21 yards and for a team with a suspect offense, that has to raise some eyebrows as well. One week ago, the talk was that Pittsburgh was on-par with Dallas, and clearly the best team int he AFC. They had an off-game against a very good Philadelphia team. Does that mean this team is no longer elite? I don't think so. Against Philly, on the road, their defense was superb against a really good offense. Their offense was really dinged up, as Big Ben was roughed up and dropped nine times. He remains injured, but he is a big-time QB and I think he do fine tonight. He has toughed it out before and on the season, he is still entering with a 99.4 QB rating with three TDs and one INT, averaging 7.8 yards per attempt. This will be Flacco's first road game in the NFL, in a very hostile environment, facing a great defense. He'll also be facing a very good team that is pissed off about a loss last week (an embarrasing one for the offense). We saw what happened to Matt Ryan, another touted "savior", in his first road game after great play at home. This is also the first road game for rookie head coach Jim Harbaugh. Can the Ravens, a horrible road team with a bad offense and rookie QB and coach, keep it close in this hostile environment against a motivated home team that is one of the best in the league? I don't think so. Instead I see Baltimore notching yet another road loss and their ninth straight ATS loss. The fact that the public is on Pittsburgh while the line is moving the other way, and the Big Ben situation, will keep us from going more than one unit here, but we will back the Steelers regardless.