Let's kick off a new week in the NFL with another Thursday Night Football game, this time between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings.
We've got a market report on the game from South Point director Chris Andrews and a best bet from Adam Burke and Dave Tuley as Week 14 gets underway.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings (-3, 43.5)
Market Report from Chris Andrews: I opened Minnesota -3. Other stores have the Vikings -3 with -115 or -120 vigorish. That means everybody who wants the Vikings is betting with us at the South Point because we have the best price. If I go up to Vikings -3.5, then everybody that likes the Steelers would take the hook that nobody else is offering. In those situations, I prefer to sit on the whole number. I’m currently one-sided with Vikings money. I’ll have to decide before kickoff how I want to manage our risk. My opening total of 45 was bet down to 44.5 and 44. Sharps are still taking Under 44 with me. I see 43.5 and many other spots. I may be down to 43.5 by the time you read this.
Burke: You can understand why nobody wants to bet the Vikings after last week’s loss to the Lions, but the 29-27 final only tells a portion of the story. Minnesota outgained Detroit 6.0 to 5.2 in yards per play. The Vikings had six red zone trips to four for the Lions, but only managed three touchdowns. Minnesota was 6-of-13 on third down, while Detroit was 2-of-11. Credit to the Lions for the win, but that box score suggests a Minnesota win a high percentage of the time.
Pittsburgh is in an awful spot here. This is the third road game in 19 days for the Steelers with a 39-year-old starting quarterback. They also just scored a really emotional, dramatic home win over Baltimore to snap a three-game winless streak. Now they’ll face a team better than its record, a team that has had a lead of seven or more points in every game.
The Vikings have a top-10 offense by DVOA. The Steelers rank 20th. Pittsburgh’s defense is wildly overrated in the court of public opinion, as the team actually ranks 27th in DVOA. Along with a higher-rated defense, Minnesota also has a top-five special teams unit, while Pittsburgh is 13th.
Home-field advantage isn’t worth three points anymore in the NFL, so Minnesota is rightfully listed as a favorite on a neutral, but being favored by just one point or so doesn’t jive with the metrics.
Pick: Vikings -3
Tuley: The Thursday nighter gives us two teams trying to stay in the playoff hunt. The Steelers rallied and then held off the Ravens 20-19 on Sunday to tighten the AFC race, while the Vikings were dealt a blow to their NFC wild-card hopes with their 29-27 loss to the Lions on the last play of the game.
Earlier this year, the Vikings barely beat the Lions on a last-second FG, while the Steelers played those same Lions to a 16-16 tie. In addition, the Vikings lost 34-31 to the Ravens. All of these common opponents have me wondering why the Vikings are favored by a field goal, especially as they’re 2-3 ATS at home, so I don’t want to hear about home-field advantage. And all these teams are playing close games against each other, so who do you trust more in a close game? Ben Roethlisberger or Kirk Cousins? Mike Tomlin or Mike Zimmer? The Steelers D or the Vikings D? It’s 3-for-3 for the road dog in my opinion.
We missed the opener of Steelers + 4, but this line is Vikings -3 -120 at most books, so hopefully it gets back to + 3.5, though we’re definitely looking for the outright upset.
Pick: Steelers + 3 or better