Normally when I preview games I look at both sides, identify the strengths and weaknesses, see how they match up and then make an educated assessment of how things could turn out. That’s not going to work here. The Steelers have some issues and haven’t exactly been overwhelming this year, but compared to the Chiefs they are the best team in the world. Kansas City is a total and utter mess right now, and there is absolutely nothing about them to be particularly positive about. It is a franchise totally without direction and focus, and it’s only going to get worse.
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Instead of spending time looking at both teams, then, I’m going to do something a little different here. I’m going to focus on just one task — trying to find reasons to justify picking the Chiefs as big underdogs. When a line is as big as this one is I like to look hard at the underdog, but the Chiefs are a very hard team to love. They are just 2-6 ATS, and five of their seven losses have been by 16 or more points, so we have our work cut out for us. An overwhelming amount of the action has been on the Steelers, so not many people are finding good reasons to trust the Chiefs. Can we do better?
Chiefs at Steelers Betting Storylines
Road performance? - Since the game is being played in Pittsburgh, a good place to start is by looking at how strong the Chiefs have been on the road. Unfortunately, though, they have been mostly terrible. They have three road losses, and they have lost by an average of more than three touchdowns per game. Those three losses have been against Buffalo, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay — hardly the elite of the league. They did win in New Orleans in Week 3, but that was back when the Saints were almost as much of a mess as the Chiefs are now. Pittsburgh is unbeaten at home, so the location certainly doesn’t give the Chiefs any boost.
Changes on defense? - This is potentially one small reason to be positive, but only a little positive. The defense hasn’t allowed a ton of yards — they are a solid 12th in the league in passing yards allowed, for example. They just can’t stop opponents from scoring, though — only two teams have allowed more than the 30 points per game they have given up. The biggest problem is obvious. Romeo Crennel has done a lousy job as head coach this year, yet he was trying to do something that almost all very good coaches would never do — he was his own defensive coordinator as well. He finally came to his senses and fired himself from that job this week. Linebacker coach Gary Gibbs has been promoted to defensive coordinator. Having someone in the job full time is a huge improvement, Gibbs has been with the Chiefs since 2009 so he knows the team well, and he has previously been a DC with the Saints, so he could hit the ground running. There is some talent on the team, so small changes could make big impacts.
Running game? - The lone bright spot for these Chiefs has been their running game — with an average of 149.9 yards per game they are third in the league. Jamaal Charles leads the way, and there is some depth as well. Pittsburgh is seventh in the league against the run, so the Chiefs have their hands full. However, there is a chance that the Chiefs can have some success here. Really, it’s their only hope of keeping this game close.
Passing game? - Don’t make me laugh. Matt Cassel was so bad that he was benched in favor of Brady Quinn — hardly an elite QB in his own right. Quinn didn’t last long as starter before getting hurt. Now not only is Cassel playing despite continued issues with his play, but his credibility and confidence have been undermined as well. Oh yeah — he’s playing against the top pass defense in the league as well. Cassel and this pass defense are a liability, not an asset here.
Chiefs at Steelers Monday Night Football Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened between 12 and 12.5 points in most spots, and now can be found at that level or at 13 points now. The Steelers have drawn the large majority of the action, so the line is unlikely to fall significantly. The total opened at 43 points, and has remained mostly stable. It has seen some downward pressure to as low as 42 points in some spots.
The home team is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings between these teams, though that dates back to 2003 so it doesn’t mean much. Kansas City hasn’t covered their last three, while the Steelers have covered three straight.
Chiefs at Steelers Predictions and NFL Picks
I don’t like the size of the spread, and while Pittsburgh has improved dramatically in their last three as they have gotten healthy they still aren’t a dominant team. I am not in love with the Steelers, but there is absolutely no way to justify picking the Chiefs in this or any circumstance at the moment — at least until they show some glimmer of pride. On top of that, the Steelers have another asset — offensive coordinator Todd Haley will be very motivated to beat up on the team that fired him. Pittsburgh is the clear choice despite the large number of points you have to give up.
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