Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
Date and Time: Thursday, 9/11/14 at 8:30pm on CBS
Game Line: Baltimore Ravens -2.5 (from WagerWeb)
Thursday Night NFL Football Analysis: Unfortunately, this primetime showdown between division rivals is going to be largely overshadowed on Thursday night as disturbing new video evidence that surfaced earlier this week regarding Ray Rice’s domestic violence incident has taken the world by storm. He left the Baltimore Ravens little choice but to terminate the running back’s contract immediately. Although such an offensive finding only complicates an issue that has drawn much criticism toward the franchise and the NFL as a whole, the impact on the field in this game doesn’t change for the Ravens who were already prepared to play without Rice in Thursday’s home matchup with the Steelers. Rice was banned two games by commissioner Roger Goodell after a video showed rice dragging his unconscious fiancée from a casino elevator after a domestic dispute that drew charges from law enforcement. After a more complete video surfaced Monday that showed Rice punching his now wife before pulling her out of the elevator, the Ravens released Rice. Though the Rice situation could be a distraction, nothing changes personnel wise in regards to this contest. The Ravens still must figure out the direction of their running game after having just 23 yards on nine carries before falling behind 15-0 at halftime Sunday against Cincinnati. Bernard Pierce started the game but fumbled in the second quarter and didn’t play again. Justin Forsett took over and ran 11 times for 70 yards and a touchdown but the Ravens gave up a late touchdown pass and lost 23-16. Though Flacco was shaky, his receivers dropped a league high six passes in week one and the offense is going to have to play better going forward if this team is going to be successful. The Steelers have room for improvement as well but they were able to hang on for a 30-27 win over Cleveland on Sunday despite blowing a 24 point halftime lead. The highlight of their offensive attack was running back Le’Veon Bell who finished with 109 rushing yards and another 88 through the air. He’s looking forward to facing a Baltimore defense against which he totaled 166 yards and a score last season. The two contests were decided by a total of 5 points and nine of the last ten regular season meetings between these two teams have been decided by 3 points of fewer. There’s too much controversy and distraction surrounding the Baltimore organization to pick them in a game that is sure to come down to the wire and on national TV, the conversation won’t be about what is happening on the field for the Ravens, but what is happening off of it. Pittsburgh’s offense looked much stronger in week one and it’s hard to pick against them in this spot.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Free NFL Picks: Pittsburgh -2.5 and over 44
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Game Prediction: 27-20 Steelers
What to expect in this Week 2 NFL Football match up: It’s hard to believe that the Ray Rice issue hasn’t posed a distraction for the Ravens as they’ve prepared for this game on a short week. Pittsburgh already looked stronger offensively and without a strong running game, the Ravens will have a tough time keeping up with the Steelers. Pittsburgh will have a big lead early but a big play late in the second half from Joe Flacco will make this a typical one score differential between these two AFC North powers.