The Pittsburgh Steelers lost four consecutive games to the Baltimore Ravens, beginning with a postseason loss at the end of the 2014 season through to the first meeting in the 2016 season, but they turned the tide in spectacular fashion on Christmas Day of that year with the Immaculate Extension play by Antonio Brown that won the game.
The Steelers went on to sweep the Ravens in 2017, giving them a three-game winning streak, which Baltimore broke earlier this season by coming into Heinz Field and knocking Pittsburgh off in their own stadium during a game in which the offense was useless for three of the four quarters.
But that’s fine, of course. The Ravens will win a game or two here and there. This isn’t the Cleveland Browns, whom the Steelers so rarely lose to. They got three wins in a row, to a 75 percent winning rate is nothing to sneeze at against a team that knows them so well and always plays them tough.
But the problem is, the Ravens play them especially tough in Baltimore. While they went in there last year and handled the Ravens by a score of 26-9, that game was an extreme aberration in comparison to recent trends, which don’t bode well for this week.
Baltimore had won five consecutive games against the Steelers while playing the host from 2013 through 2016. Since 2003, the year before Ben Roethlisberger was drafted, the Ravens own a record of 11-4 against Pittsburgh.
Sure, some of those games don’t include Roethlisberger. The year before he was drafted; Tommy Maddox was injured in the 2004 game and started in 2005 as well; Charlie Batch started a meaningless finale in 2007; Dennis Dixon started in 2009. But he is still just 3-6 against the Ravens in Baltimore, while Batch winning one game.
Even with a Ravens team that is reeling a bit following a pair of fall-from-ahead losses to the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers over the course of the past two weeks to fall to 4-4 on the season, there is no reason that the Steelers should feel comfortable with their trip into Baltimore this week.
The bettors seem to agree, as Pittsburgh opens as three-point underdogs. That is generally the home-field advantage granted, so it’s considered a toss-up at best despite the fact that the Steelers are playing some of the best football in the league right now.