Baltimore (8-6) at Pittsburgh (9-5)
When: Sunday, December 25th 2016
Where: Heniz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Time: 4:30 ET | TV: NFL Network
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The Baltimore Ravens will look to improve on their perfect 4-0 mark in division play when the visit the Pittsburgh Steelers on Christmas Day at Heinz Field. Either team can win the AFC North and both control their own destiny with Pittsburgh just needing to win Sunday and Baltimore needing the last two. The Ravens survived a 27-26 win over Philadelphia last Sunday when the Eagles went for two and failed late in the game. Joe Flacco (career-best 374 completions this season) threw two touchdown passes on Sunday as Baltimore posted its fifth win in seven games. Flacco owns a 5-3 mark at Heinz Field since the beginning of 2010 but has struggled on the road this season, losing his last four away from home and throwing seven interceptions in six games. Terrance West racked up 122 yards from scrimmage (77 rushing, 45 receiving) versus the Eagles, but was limited to just 21 yards on 15 carries in last month’s 21-14 victory over Pittsburgh. Linebacker Zachary Orr recorded 10 of his AFC third-best 122 tackles in the first meeting with the Steelers.
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Six field goals by kicker Chris Boswell was just enough for the Steelers to get by the Cincinnati Bengals last week 24-20. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger passed and rushed for a score in the first meeting with Baltimore and connected with Eli Rogers in the fourth quarter last week for Pittsburgh’s only touchdown of the day. Le’Veon Bell leads the NFL with 158.8 yards from scrimmage per game and his 1,146 rushing yards are third-best in the league despite serving a three-game suspension to begin the season. Bell, however, was limited to 32 yards rushing against Baltimore’s second-ranked run defense (82.1) in the first meeting. Wide receiver Antonio Brown found the end zone against the Ravens and his 11 touchdowns this season and 96 catches are second-best in the league. Linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who has a team-leading 98 tackles, has 10 or more tackles in five of the last seven meetings with Baltimore. Veteran linebacker James Harrison recorded two sacks in the last month against the Ravens and has five in the last four meetings.
These two teams always seem to play close physical games especially at Heinz Field, where seven of the last eight regular season meetings there have been decided by exactly three points. The Ravens defense will slow down Pittsburgh enough to keep this one tight. I’ll take the points.
Pick: Ravens +5.5