Thursday Night Football Betting Preview

Ravens at Steelers

Each week, TheLines will provide a betting breakdown and analysis for the upcoming Thursday Night Football game. We’ll look at the odds and see why they’re moving a certain way, along with breaking down the matchup and providing the week’s best prop bets.

The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers will face off at Heinz Field for an AFC North showdown on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 26. The game will mark the 54th meeting in a series the Steelers lead 29-24. The most recent game between the teams unfolded in Week 8 this season, with the Steelers notching a 28-24 victory.

In that contest, Ben Roethlisberger threw for a modest 182 yards but also tossed two touchdowns without an interception. On the other side, Lamar Jackson completed under 50% of his passes and offset a pair of touchdown throws with two interceptions, while JK Dobbins – who will not play in the rematch due to a COVID-19 infection – led the ground attack with 113 yards on 15 carries.

TNF betting odds and analysis

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:20 p.m. ET

 

The line for this rematch between two heated rivals will be one to keep an eye on, as the Ravens particularly have a fluid situation with their roster at the moment. Mark Ingram and Dobbins were both ruled out due to positive COVID-19 tests that were revealed Monday. Key run-stopper Brandon Williams, who was already nursing an ankle injury, also hit the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday due to close contact with infected teammates. Tight end Mark Andrews and defensive end Calais Campbell also carry questionable tags due to thigh and calf injuries, respectively.

The Steelers are the picture of health by comparison with JuJu Smith-Schuster’s freak toe injury, sustained when he tripped over an official’s penalty flag in Week 11, the only health issue of note.

Despite the fact the Ravens have lost three of their past four games in addition to the key absences they’ll have to endure Thursday, oddsmakers and the public have afforded them plenty of respect since the early line was revealed late last week. Baltimore was only a 2.5-point underdog to the undefeated Steelers at that point.

Since then, they lost another game to a quality team in the Titans last Sunday and received the news that two of their top three backs in their run-centric offense will miss this contest. Nevertheless, the Ravens are still currently just () underdogs.

The total for this game has also been affected by the realization the Ravens will be at less than full strength on offense. The number was at 46.0 points as of late Sunday night, and after bumping up to 46.5 on a couple of occasions during the early part of Monday, it began its descent upon the emergence of news regarding Dobbins and Ingram. It’s since then steadily toggled between 45.0 and 44.5 and currently sits at ().

  • The Ravens are 4-6 (40%) against the spread this season, including 2-3 (40%) as a road team and 2-1 (66.7%) in division games. The Over is 4-6 (40%) in Baltimore’s games this season, including 2-3 (40%) in its away games and 1-2 (33.3%) in its games against AFC North opponents.
  • The Steelers are 8-2 (80%) against the spread this season, including 4-1 (80%) as a home team and 3-0 in division games. Then, the Over is 4-4-2 in Pittsburgh’s games this season, including 3-1-1 (75%) in its home games and 1-1-1 in its games against division opponents.

Ravens vs. Steelers game matchup

The Steelers remain on the extremely challenging quest of posting a perfect regular-season record. They’ve reached the point in the season where there’s light at the end of the tunnel in that regard. This game originally shaped up as one of the three biggest potential stumbling blocks remaining on the schedule, with Week 14 and 16 battles against the Bills and Colts representing the other two.

However, the absences of Dobbins and Ingram – not to mention the Ravens’ significantly compromised practice schedule on the short week – theoretically makes this game a lot more palatable for the Steelers. Pittsburgh also has the psychological edge of having already notched a victory against Baltimore this season, and on the road at that. There’s actually even a bit more history on the Steelers’ side in this series as they’re 4-1 overall against the Ravens in the last five games in which Roethlisberger has started.

Naturally, none of that guarantees anything close to a cakewalk. Besides the fact the second game against a quality division opponent can always be especially difficult, the Ravens still have plenty of reinforcements to make up for their key injuries. Roethlisberger and his teammates on that side of the ball will face a unit giving up the seventh-fewest passing yards per game (217.0), including an even better 211.8 on the road. Baltimore also ranks in the top half of the league with a 63.9% completion rate surrendered on the road, and despite the fact the Ravens have only nabbed five interceptions, they’re allowing a minuscule 5.8 average yards per attempt when traveling.

Running on Baltimore has actually been a bit more palatable as a result. That’s particularly true when stalwarts like Williams and Campbell are out of action. The Ravens allow 116.0 rushing yards per game overall, along with a healthy 4.5 RB yards per carry. While Baltimore did do a good job on James Conner in the first meeting (15-47-1), the fourth-year pro did enjoy a resurgent effort Week 11 against the Jaguars with 13 rushes for 89 yards. The Steelers have managed Conner’s workload carefully thus far, but this is one late-season game where they may find it prudent to balance out their recent pass-happy ways more than usual.

On the other side, the challenge for the Ravens is going to be tougher than it already would have been. Baltimore is facing a Steelers defense allowing the fourth-fewest total yards per game (306.9), third-fewest passing yards per game (203.5), lowest completion percentage (54.8) and seventh-fewest rushing yards per game (103.4). Pittsburgh also gives up the fifth-fewest adjusted line yards per carry (3.47) and own the third-highest stuff rate (23.4%) in the league.

No team has more picks than the Steelers’ 15 interceptions, and they’ve brought down the quarterback an NFL-high 38 times as well. In other words, the landscape goes from dark to downright bleak with a short-handed offense for Baltimore. Jackson’s recent play under center is also cause for concern – the reigning NFL MVP has thrown for under 200 yards in six of the last eight games and completed under 60% of his throws in five of those contests.

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How to watch Thursday Night Football

The Thursday Night Football schedule is the most complex of the primetime NFL spots.

The first Thursday season opener doesn’t fall under the TNF title. Chiefs – Texans in Week 1 was broadcast on NBC at 8:20 p.m. ET. And, the three-game Thanksgiving slate in Week 13 will be carried by three different networks.

CBS gets the 12:30 p.m. ET Turkey Day game between the Texans and the Lions in Detroit. At 4:30 p.m. ET the Washington Football Team will play at Dallas on FOX. And in the nightcap, the Ravens will play at the Steelers. NBC will broadcast the game from Pittsburgh.

NFL Network will broadcast the games in Weeks 2, 3 and 4. Then, starting in Week 5 with the matchup of the Buccaneers vs. Bears, FOX NFL Network, and Amazon will simulcast the game.

Still with us? Each Thursday night game will begin at 8:20 p.m. Eastern, regardless of the network.

Games can be streamed on NFL Network, FOX Sports Go, Amazon Prime and Twitch. Additionally, NFL Network and FOX can be streamed on services such as Roku, PS4 and Xbox One.

Thursday Night Football betting tips

How to bet TNF like a sharp

Thursday Night Football condenses the practice week for coaches, decreases recovery time for players and limits opportunities for media members to uncover stories and create narratives. This unpredictability factor can help to level the sports-betting playing field.

Taking the most rested team is never a bad idea. You want the healthiest squad with the longest amount of preparation time since its last game.

Siding with the home team in what would otherwise be a pick’em doesn’t hurt, either. You want the team that’s spent the longest amount of time preparing in the proper city, not wasting what can be the better of a day traveling.

You want the healthiest side, as simple as that. Without a proper injury report, it can be tough to tell what level of health players will be at when gearing up to play in a big primetime spot. Don’t expect a player who left a game Sunday to return in elite form by Thursday. He’ll more than likely be a decoy.

Don’t fall into the public opinion trap of TNF always being a lousy game. It’s still one of only 16 games those two teams will play all year and most of them generally need to win. Coaches will do the best with what they have, and plenty of players (Hello, Nick Mullens!) have burst onto the scene with strong games while filling in for an injured starter.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does Thursday Night Football start?

The 2020 Thursday Night Football slate began with the Cincinnati Bengals taking on the Cleveland Browns.

How to stream Thursday Night Football?

TNF can be streamed live on NFL Network, FOX Sports Go, Amazon Prime and Twitch. NFL Network and FOX can also be streamed through services such as Roku, PS4 and Xbox One.

What is the highest-scoring Thursday Night Football game ever?

The Los Angeles Rams defeated the San Francisco 49ers 41-39 in Week 3 of the 2017 campaign in the highest-scoring TNF game of all time.

Who are the TNF announcers?

Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will return to broadcast TNF. Mike Pereira serves as the rules analyst with Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink working the sidelines. The same broadcast airs on FOX, NFL Network and Amazon.

Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer made history in 2018 as the first all-woman NFL broadcast team as an alternate stream for Amazon Prime viewers.

Who was the original Thursday Night Football broadcast crew?

The original TNF broadcast crew for NFL Network in 2006 was Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth.

Retired Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo memorably joined Jim Nantz for CBS’ final year of TNF coverage in 2017.

Who sings the Thursday Night Football theme song?

FOX and NFL Network air their own instrumental themes to begin the coverage, unlike the SNF and MNF primetime spots.