Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (3.5, 40)
The Baltimore Ravens finally put together a complete performance last week, showing just how explosive they can be in all three phases in a demolition of the Oakland Raiders. The rival Pittsburgh Steelers will provide a stiffer test defensively but might not be up to par on the other side of the ball. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was knocked out of Monday’s overtime win with a shoulder injury and is out for Sunday. Roethlisberger also has a partially dislocated rib and could be sidelined multiple weeks, leaving the ball in Byron Leftwich’s hands.
While Roethlisberger’s absence will help the Ravens’ defense, Joe Flacco will still have to go up against the No. 1 secondary in the league. Baltimore is trying to open up a two-game lead on Pittsburgh in the AFC North while pushing its winning streak in the series to three straight.
TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC.
LINE: Ravens -3.5, O/U 40.
WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the low-40s under partly cloudy skies. Winds will blow out of the ESE at 5 mph.
ABOUT THE RAVENS (7-2): Baltimore dominated the Raiders last Sunday in a 55-20 victory, scoring three touchdowns in the passing game, two in the running game and two on special teams. The beleaguered defense even forced three turnovers. That defense, which had once been the heart and soul of the team, will be glad to not have Roethlisberger around. The Ravens are 26th in opposing passing yards and allowed Carson Palmer to throw for 368 last week. The run defense is not much better but could get a break as well if Pittsburgh’s Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) is out or limited. Flacco threw for 300 yards in the trip to Heinz Field last season, including a 26-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith with eight seconds left that gave Baltimore a 23-20 victory.
ABOUT THE STEELERS (6-3): Leftwich has not started a game since he was with Tampa Bay in September 2009, but he came on in relief of Roethlisberger on Monday and at least got a chance to shake off some rust, going 7-of-14 for 73 yards. Roethlisberger’s big concern is the rib, which doctors are worried could cut his aorta if jostled. Leftwich will lean on a defense that has carried the team back into contention in four straight wins. That unit has held Andy Dalton, Eli Manning, Robert Griffin III and Matt Cassel to an average of 140.3 yards passing in the last four weeks. Safety Ryan Clark has been limited at practice this week due to a concussion and is listed as questionable for Sunday.
* Under is 4-0 in Steelers’ last four games overall.
* Ravens are 3-0-1 ATS in their last four November games.
* Steelers are 4-0 ATS in their last four home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
* Over is 5-1 in Ravens’ last six road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
1. The Ravens have won 11 straight regular-season games against the AFC North
2. The Steelers are 4-0 at home this season and have won seven straight overall at Heinz Field since falling to Baltimore on Nov. 6, 2011.
3. Ravens KR Jacoby Jones became the first player in team history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same season with a 105-yard return last week.