Cloudy skies are forecasted at today's 11 outdoor NFL venues, while there is a slight chance of rain in Pittsburgh where the Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens. While weather isn’t a factor today, injuries always are. Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees are both headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after their playing days, but right now, both of them would like to be playing but are sidelined with injuries. Roethlisberger lost for the season after surgery on his elbow, and Brees hoping to return sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving.
The Steelers are looking to become one of those rare teams that crack the playoff field after opening with three losses. A win over the struggling Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night, was not enough to get the betting world backing their chances this week. Today, the Steelers are home underdogs to a Baltimore team that has lost two straight games.
An opening 59-10 win over the Miami Dolphins sent the Ravens into second week action with a stat that can skew numbers all year long. Is Baltimore truly an offensive juggernaut? Second year quarterback Lamar Jackson took over as the Ravens stater last November, and last week’s defeat to the Cleveland Browns, which was preceded by a loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City, is the first time in his brief career that he has lost back-to-back games.
Would a suspect Pittsburgh team be capable of handing Jackson a third straight loss, and is this where the Steelers find out beating the Bengals is a lot easier than beating the Ravens?
The point spread is suspiciously high, the visiting Ravens giving 3½ points. The line reflects a football talent gap with Baltimore, while the Steelers get the home field and most of the motivational edges on their side. While this game is not among the Week Five money rated picks, it seems to me that giving the points in this spot might not be enough to cash a bet with the straight-up winner.
An even more inviting spot where the point spread appears destined to dictate a win is in Los Angeles, where the Chargers host the Denver Broncos. The visitors are winless in four starts under first-year head coach Vic Fagio. The Chargers won last week in Miami after suffering back-to-back losses at Detroit and to Houston.
As for our Top Pick this week, my concern was our team scored 55 points last week. I have an automatic aversion to taking a team the week after they scored 50 points or more. My thinking is based on the theory that a team that scored that many points would be overconfident the next week and fall flat.
Turns out, stats don’t bare that out to be true. Over the past 15 seasons, 50 teams have scored 50 or more points in an NFL regular season game. The following week, those 50 teams are 24-24-2 against the point spread, 3 and 3 when getting points on the road, like the Bucs are today. So, if I was to downgrade today’s play on the Bucs based on the fear of betting on a team that scored more than 50 points the week before, I would be basing that decision on an edge that does not exist.
What does exist is a very good chance of the Bucs following up their offensive explosion from last week with another big day today. In addition to the Bucs play today, two four rated games are now posted on this site.
As for the public, their favorite play of the week is the New England Patriots (-16) over the Washington Redskins. The next two most bet games are the Saints (-3) over Buccaneers and Los Angeles Chargers (-5½) over the Denver Broncos.
If a Bullet play develops in the final hour leading up to the day’s first kickoff, that selection will be added to the list of recommendations at 9:45 a.m. Pacific Time.