Odds makers are expecting another tight game when the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens open up the 2011 regular season at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, September 11. According to our odds partner Odds Shark, the early line on this game between the bitter AFC North rivals is between one and three points.
After splitting their season series in 2007, with the Steelers blowing out the Ravens 38-7 at Heinz Field and the Ravens scoring a 27-21 win in the regular season finale, the last six meetings between the two teams have been decided by four points or less.
The Steelers swept the two meetings during the 2008 season, beating the Ravens 13-10 on a Monday night in Pittsburgh and rallying in the fourth quarter to win 13-9 in Baltimore, with former Steelers wideout Santonio Holmes scoring a controversial touchdown in the final minute. (Holmes was initially ruled down short of the goal-line, but the call was reversed by the replay official.)
In 2009, the Ravens and Steelers split the season series, with Billy Cundiff connecting from 29 yards out to give the Ravens a 20-17 overtime win in Baltimore. Former Steelers kicker Jeff Reed hit a 38-yard field goal with five minutes remaining to give the Steelers a 23-20 win in the rematch.
Home-field advantage was meaningless last season, as the Ravens held the Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger-less offense to just 14 points in a 17-14 win at Heinz Field. Big Ben returned for the primetime rematch on December 5, and tossed a nine-yard touchdown to backup running back Isaac Redman to give the Steelers a 13-10 lead under three minutes remaining. Pittsburgh's swarming defense, led by 2010 AP Defensive Player of the Year Troy Polamalu, who created a turnover that set up the Steelers' game-winning score, preserved the win.
Baltimore has a few faces on offense -- Lee Evans, Bryant McKinnie, Vonta Leach -- but are largely unchanged. The Steelers have just one "new" starter -- right guard Doug Legursky -- entering 2011, so there is a lot of familiarity and bitterness on both sides for fans to expect another slobber-knocker when these two teams meet on Sunday.