AFC North Betting Battle
Oof! Last week was tough to swallow. Somehow 31 first half points weren’t enough to bring home our Patriots – Cowboys OVER 43. Negative variance is our enemy, but we understand it’s part of the business when you’re getting money in good. For NFL Week 5 we focus on the AFC North battle between the Ravens and Steelers. Baltimore is currently a 4.5-point road favorite but it’s the first half we’ll key on.
1464 1H PITTSBURGH STEELERS +3 (-110); Good to (-125):
Let’s talk about the market and how we’ve arrived at the current price. The preseason number on this game was Ravens -1, while the look-ahead line adjusted to Ravens -2.5 before last week’s results. The Steelers were crushed by Houston 30-6 in a non-competitive game and to make matters worse, Kenny Pickett suffered a bone bruise to his knee. Our initial thought was Kenny Pickett would miss, but now reports are not only will Pickett play, but the Steelers game plan won’t be modified.
The full game number peaked at +5.5 before sharp money backed the home dog. I agree with the that move, but think Pittsburgh +3 in the first half has more value with a total sitting at 19.
Baltimore Benefiting from Quarterback Questions
Lamar Jackson’s clinical performance dismantled the Browns defense early and Cleveland’s backup rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson didn’t stand a chance chasing. Baltimore faced another rookie quarterback making his NFL debut Week 1 in CJ Stroud. Week 2 saw the Ravens defense facing an injured Joe Burrow and the 26th ranked Bengals offense. Week 3 career backup Gardner Minshew went into Baltimore and helped pull off the outright upset as a 7.5-point underdog.
It’s never easy backing teams off performances as poor as Pittsburgh’s last Sunday. However, that is typically when you find mispricings in the market due to overreaction. Mike Tomlin vowed to make changes, even though those seem geared towards player punishment with more physical practices than anything schematic or personnel wise.
I’ll be candid, there isn’t much to like from a metric or matchup standpoint for Pittsburgh, but if we know anything about Tomlin teams, I expect a focused effort. With all the familiarity between Baltimore and Pittsburgh, and how well the underdog has fared in this series (17-1-3 since 2008 with a spread of 3 or more), you can put the advanced analytics on the back burner.
Pittsburgh closed +1 against the San Francisco 49ers Week 1, and +2.5 Week 2 at home against Cleveland. This is all about price. Time to plug our nose and grab +3 first half and sell the Ravens a peak.
2023-2024 NFL Market Moves Record: (1-1) 50%
2022-2023 NFL Market Moves Record: (13-6-1) 68.4%