With a third-string quarterback leading the Steelers, Luca Bercelli believes they are in for a struggle
On the face of it this contest looks like a mismatch, and that's the way it's been priced up by the shrewdies on Betfair.
Baltimore are as short as 1.330/100 to back on the Moneyline, and the reason for this confidence is the uncertainty over who'll be calling the shots at QB for the Steelers. Will it be banged-up Ben Roethlisberger or the Bruce Forsyth of American Football, third-string Charlie Batch? And no, the Brucie reference is not 'cos he's light on his toes, it's because he's ancient and well past his sell-by date.
Neither option is attractive and it appears more likely that it will be 15-year veteran Batch who draws the short straw on Sunday. He has the unenviable task of facing a defence that has tightened the screw in recent games, allowing a lowly average of only 14.4 pts in their last four outings. This defensive iron grip hit new heights v the Chargers last week when five different players all registered sacks. It looks highly likely therefore that this is a match in which Batch will be sacked.
The Ravens sneaked a win against the Steelers two weeks ago and that was with second string QB Byron Leftwich filling in for Big Ben. A further downgrade at the QB position (as a result of Byron's broken ribs) could mean that the Steelers will be even worse. They'll look for a positive boost from the return of their superstar safety Troy Polamalu, but although he's a huge factor at his best, it's asking a lot for him to win this one on his own.
No QB worries for the Ravens, they have Joe Flacco directing traffic, and he is very much the number one quarterback in Baltimore. The 6ft 6in fifth-year former first round draft pick is having a very solid, generally underappreciated year (2850 yards through the air already). He, along with the rest of the squad will be highly motivated to do the double over their divisional rivals and earn a guaranteed play-off spot into the bargain. If they do they'll extend the NFL's longest home winning streak to 17 and pretty much consign their divisional rivals to a rare year of post-season spectating rather than playing.
Let's try the half time/full time result here (Baltimore/Baltimore) @ 1.75/7 along with the obvious outright win @ 1.330/100 but go easy on this one, there are better opportunities to bolster the piggy bank in other matches.
Back Baltimore Ravens to win @ 1.330/100
Back Baltimore Ravens to win at half time and full time @ 1.75/7