Baltimore beat Pittsburgh in both games last season. Remember though, Big Ben Roethlisberger was gone by then and the Steelers offensive success was placed on the shoulders of Mason Rudolph and then undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges.
With Big Ben back as well as a healthy JuJu Smith-Schuster and a healthy James Conner, the Pittsburgh offense is averaging 30.5 points per game. The key on Sunday though, as everyone knows, will be defense.
The Ravens and Steelers sport two of the best defenses in the league. Pittsburgh is No. 1 in total defense and Baltimore is first in scoring defense. Interestingly enough in this series, the underdog is 4-0-1 ATS in the last five games.
Coach Rick likes Pittsburgh to rise to the occasion, keep the game close, and win in Baltimore.
Yes, times have changed. The Patriots have won seven straight against the Bills and have a record of 35- 4 against Buffalo since 2000. Minus Tom Brady and after three straight losses, the Patriots find themselves the underdog on Sunday.
The Patriots won two of their first three games with Cam Newton at quarterback. Then, they lost three straight. To make matters worse, the Patriots only scored 28 points combined in those three games.
Buffalo started strong as well winning their first three games in a row, but the Bills have lost two of their last three games. They were uninspiring at best in an 18-10 win over the Jets last week.
So, why New England and why the Patriots on the road?
One reason. Bill Belichick. Somehow, the master is going to find a way to win. As an underdog coming off of a loss, Belichick-coached Patriots teams are 7-1.
A week ago, the Broncos looked awful and the Chargers looked like world-beaters. But, take a look at each opponent. Denver got stomped by the 6-1 Kansas City Chiefs. L.A. won 39-29 over the 1-6 Jacksonville Jaguars.
Keep in mind that Denver has won 14 of the last 18 games in this series and that includes six of the last seven games at Empower Field at Mile High. Coach Rick also reminds you that the Broncos’ four losses have all come to division leaders with a combined record of 22-4.
The Chargers have lost to two division leaders – Kansas City and Tampa Bay – and their wins are over the Jets and the Bengals who are a combined 1-12-1. Yes, Denver’s wins are over the Jets and Patriots whose combined record isn’t much better (2-11), but remember…Denver has won six of the last seven against the Chargers at home.
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.