The Ravens and Steelers are finally set to play this afternoon after multiple postponements. The game was initially pushed back from Thanksgiving to Sunday, then Tuesday, and finally Wednesday afternoon at 3:40 PM, Eastern Time. A COVID-19 outbreak among the Ravens locker room of course led to the postponements and has left the team essentially decimated.
Reigning MVP Lamar Jackson is currently one of four Ravens Pro Bowl players who are listed on the COVID-19 list as of game day. Mark Andrews, Calais Campbell, Willie Snead, and linebacker Matthew Judon highlight the rest of the Ravens losses, which includes 12 players total. Running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins were both on the list as of last weekend but will be available for today’s game. What impact they will have remains unclear.
From a betting standpoint, these types of games present opportunities for worthwhile same game parlays. Same game parlays can be ill advised if done too much, but they certainly make watching games a-lot of fun. Four-leg same game parlays can easily be constructed at odds upwards of +1500, even higher if you really wanna get outside the box on individual touchdown scorers.
Sure, game script can be way off and your parlay can be sunk by halftime, or you can win $100 off of a $5 dollar bet and make watching an out of market game very exciting.
So if you’re off today, or working from home and want to have some fun with an unusual Wednesday afternoon match-up, there are certainly opportunities.
Games notable back-ups starting — particularly at quarterback — can be tough for sports books to predict. They often play it very conservatively on over/unders for passing and receiving yards due to the unknowns. This is why these types of games are great from a betting perspective.
I wouldn’t recommend throwing any more than $10 on a same game parlay, but with that said, here is a very simple, four-leg same game parlay that I made with FanDuel. The odds came out to +1413, so $5 down would net $70.67 in profit.
Any Time Touchdown Scorer: Benny Snell Jr. (+100)
With James Conner out due to his placement on the COVID-19 list, Benny Snell Jr. is set for an increased workload. Mike Tomlin has been high on the second year running back, who is averaging 3.8 yards per carry through 165 attempts.
These certainly aren’t world beater numbers, but a featured back is always a solid bet for a touchdown. They benefit from a higher volume of opportunities and can vulture touchdowns even on their worst days. Plus, the Ravens are without multiple key players among their defensive line and linebacker position groups.
Sure, the Steelers are a team with more than one way to score in the red zone and multiple big body receivers, but weather is another factor. This will be a cold, miserable game with snow in the forecast on a Wednesday afternoon. They will look to simplify the playbook and could have plenty of red zone looks against a beleaguered Ravens team. Plus, if the Steelers could secure a big lead, Snell should theoretically be involved start to finish.
Robert Griffin III – Passing Yards: Over 165.5 yards (-110)
It’s been a long time since RG3 was a productive NFL quarterback. When the former second overall pick has been under center for the Ravens, he’s run the ball a-lot. This coupled with a Ravens passing that is without their top two tight ends in Mark Andrews (COVID) and Nick Boyle (season-ending knee injury) and Willie Snead (COVID), nobody is projecting Robert Griffin III to light it up throwing the ball.
With that said, 165.5 is a very conservative over/under. This is typically the case with back-up quarterbacks and if they never get in a rhythm, then under 165.5 is totally in the cards.
On the flip-side, one long drive can get a quarterback halfway to a number this low. Even the worst games for a QB usually end up in the 140-160 yard tier. RG3 may be far from the player he was in 2013, but he’s a competent enough NFL quarterback to top 165.5 yards over the course of a game the Ravens should be trailing in.
Even with bad weather, it’s hard not to see lots of short completions and a game script that favors the Ravens passing attack. For these reasons, I really like the over for RG3 passing yards.
Miles Boykin – Receiving Yards: Over 11.5 (-105)
This is where we get into the dice roll legs of the parlay, but this prop is a bit more calculated. Miles Boykin, the second year receiver out of Notre Dame, has just 14 catches on the season. Seven of these came in the first two weeks of the season, however, and Boykin hasn’t caught a pass since November 8 against Indianapolis.
He does average close to 11 yards per catch, however, which means Boykin could hit his over with just one catch. There’s a reason why I called this a dice roll, but if there was ever a time to involve Boykin in the offense more, it would be today. Dez Bryant is expected to see his fair share of targets this afternoon seeing as how he led the team in targets their last time out. With Snead and Andrews out, however, there will be increased opportunities for everybody.
Andrews being out could lead to an increased role for Boykin inside the 30-yard line. The Ravens will be lacking big body options in the red zone and Boykin fits that mold. Plus, Marquise Brown has just six catches over his last four games. He should be the beneficiary of increased involvement himself, but his inconsistency leaves the door wide open for someone like Boykin to thrive.
With an inconsistent Brown and a mid-season addition who didn’t play last season in Dez Bryant, it’s hard not to roll the dice on just 12 yards for Miles Boykin. Just two catches would ensure this prop. I actually got it at 12.5 yards when I made this parlay an hour ago. Dropping down to 11.5 is actually significant given what we’re working with.
Total Points – First Half: Under 21.5 (-125)
This is the leg of the parlay that I consider a true dice roll. I really don’t like betting on general scoring over/unders. Game script could totally sink them one way or another and with the unpredictability of the NFL, this happens a-lot.
With that said, they also greatly increase or decrease the odds in parlays.
This game presents a higher likelihood for unders than most, however. With all the Ravens inactive, scoring touchdowns will be very difficult. Sure, the Steelers could score 20 in the first half by themselves, but I don’t think they will. This is still a divisional match-up after all, so I expect the Ravens defense to put up a fight despite key inactive players.
So basically, for this parlay to hit we’re looking for a game in which the Ravens can move the ball but not score touchdowns in the first half. I like this because if the Ravens are able to gain some chemistry with this patch-work unit after a half, it only helps us. This is a parlay that could be wrapped up by halftime and it’s low risk, high reward.