The Pittsburgh Steelers are 2-1 and in second place in the AFC North. The Baltimore Ravens are 0-3 and in last place in the division. The Ravens will be traveling to Heinz Field on a short week and the recently-inducted Jerome Bettis will be honored at half time for his enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. All signs point to the Steelers being favored in prime time at home, but the loss of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has the odds makers thinking differently.
The opening line for the upcoming game has the Steelers as 2-point underdogs. Depending on which book you're viewing, the line can vary from the Ravens being 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5 and even 3-point favorites (according to the Bovada sports book).
Quite the difference with the removal of a single player from the Steelers' starting lineup. Clearly, the money is being moved in the favor of the Ravens and Joe Flacco, rather than betting on Michael Vick to engineer anything remotely close to a winning performance for his new team on a short week.
The Steelers are 10-8 since 2004 (Roethlisberger's rookie year) when Roethlisberger doesn't play. The quarterbacks who took over for Roethlisberger during that stint were Tommy Maddox, Charlie Batch, Dennis Dixon, Byron Leftwich and now Michael Vick.
But Vick won't be alone in his attempt to keep the Steelers on cruise control until Roethlisberger returns from an MCL sprain. He'll be wise to lean on offensive playmakers like Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, Heath Miller, DeAngelo Williams and Markus Wheaton to ease the transition.
Regardless of the offensive talent surrounding Vick on the Steelers' roster, the odds makers are clearly thinking this game will be close, and they're favoring the visitors at Heinz Field.