|Written by Michael|
Bet on the NFL The Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Baltimore to face their AFC North rivals, the Ravens, in Week 13. The Steelers are second in the AFC North with an 8-3-0 record. The Ravens, in comparison, are first in the AFC North, with the same record and will battle to hold onto their division top spot this weekend. There's more at stake than bragging rights when the Ravens play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night. The prime-time collision between the Ravens and Steelers should go a long way in determining the champion of the AFC North and the playoff seedings in the AFC.
If the Ravens sweep Pittsburgh for the second time in their history, they would have a stranglehold on the division and one of the top spots in the AFC. They essentially would have a two-game lead on the Steelers with four games remaining (the Ravens would hold the tiebreaker advantage if they finished with the same record as Pittsburgh).
If the Ravens lose to their division rival, they would lose control of the AFC North, a No.2 seed and their playoff fate. The Ravens not only would drop a game behind the Steelers in the standings, but they also would have a worse record in the division (the Ravens lost to the Cincinnati Bengals earlier this season).
The AFC North champion will likely earn one of the top two seeds in the conference, while the runner-up should end up with a wild-card spot. So, Sunday's grudge match could help determine whether the Ravens receive a bye in the first round of the playoffs (and play host to a divisional playoff game) or start the postseason on the road.
The Ravens can't afford to let the Steelers get the upper hand heading into the last quarter of the regular season because of Pittsburgh's favorable schedule. After Sunday's game at M&T Bank Stadium, the Steelers have one more road game (at Cleveland) and one more game against a team with a winning record (the New York Jets).
The Ravens are the 3 point favorites and Sportsbook lists the total over under at 40.
When betting on football check the schedule: The Ravens' final games are slightly more difficult: at Houston (5-6), vs. New Orleans (8-3), at Cleveland (4-7) and vs. Cincinnati (2-9). The Ravens are 1-4 in games in which they could sweep the Steelers.
The only time the Ravens have beaten Pittsburgh twice in a season was in 2006, when the Ravens finished with a No.2 seed and the best record in team history. The Ravens won the first meeting with the Steelers four other times (in 2000, 20001, 2004 and 2009) but failed to sweep them.
It was two months ago that quarterback Joe Flacco led the Ravens to a 17-14 comeback victory at Pittsburgh by throwing an 18-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh with 32 seconds left. There's little margin for error because these showdowns between the Ravens and the Steelers are usually close. The past five meetings have been decided by four points or fewer.
The AFC playoff picture will come into focus by the end of this week's games. After the Ravens play the Steelers, the Jets (9-2) will play at New England (9-2) on Monday night.