NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers
Before we get to previewing this Thursday's Titans-Steelers matchup in Pittsburgh, I feel almost obligated to recap what a bad beat Cardinals backers got in last Thursday's game vs. Seattle.
I didn't think Arizona would win but recommended taking the 6 points as well as the under 40. Final score: Seahawks 22, Cardinals 16. A push on the spread is better than a loss, but it would have been a sweep had Arizona kicker Phil Dawson not had his PAT try after a last-second garbage TD blocked. I suppose it could have been worse if Seattle had returned the block for two points, but it sure seems like there have been some amazingly bad beats in prime-time games this year.
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This Thursday's game looks like one of the better matchups on the night this year between two division leaders. It's quite possible the Titans and Steelers meet in the playoffs for just the second time since the Titans moved to Tennessee (other was following 2002 season).
Tennessee (6-3) is tied atop the AFC South - a division it hasn't won since 2008 - with Jacksonville. Tennessee crushed the Jags in Florida in Week 2 so holds the current tiebreaker. They play in Nashville in Week 17. I liked the Titans to win the South before the season and will stick with them simply as I hugely favor backing Marcus Mariota than I would Blake Bortles. At BetOnline , the Titans are +120 to win the South and the Jaguars -150. You can forget about the Texans and Colts with their QB problems.
Pittsburgh (7-2) would be the AFC's top seed as things stand today and is running away with the AFC North, which is really no surprise. That's probably the worst division in football; the North and AFC West are the only divisions with one team above .500. The Steelers are -10000 to win the South. The only chance they have of getting to Super Bowl LII, in my opinion, is getting home-field advantage over the Patriots. Those two play at Heinz Field in Week 15. Other than that, Pittsburgh's schedule is cake thanks to some QB injuries with the Texans and Packers and finishing with the sorry Browns. The only game Pittsburgh might not be favored would be vs. New England.
Titans at Steelers Betting Story Lines
Both bring four-game winning streaks into this one, but both needed escapes to avoid upsets in Week 10.
The Steelers came off their bye and looked like their minds were still on vacation down 17-3 midway through the third quarter at Indianapolis. Then Big Ben & Co. flipped a switch. He threw two TD passes, to emerging star rookie WR JuJu Smith-Schuster and Vance McDonald, to tie it early in the fourth. Pittsburgh got the ball at its own 15 with just over three minutes left and methodically drove down the field against one of the NFL's worst defenses. Big Ben hit Antonio Brown on a key 32-yard pass to set up Chris Boswell's winning field goal as time expired.
I'm quite confident that Coach Mike Tomlin won't be thrilled with that performance. Le'Veon Bell was held to 80 yards on 26 carries. Brown had just two catches for 15 yards before that big one late. The Steelers did lose starting cornerback Joe Haden, signed to a big contract when waived by the Browns early this season, to a non-displaced fracture of the fibula head. I don't know what that means, but he's likely out 5-6 weeks.
The Titans improved to 3-0 vs. the AFC North thanks to a 24-20 win over Cincinnati - the Titans' third win in a row by four points or fewer. They trailed 20-17 with under a minute left, but Mariota hit DeMarco Murray on a 7-yard TD pass with 36 seconds to go. Murray added two rushing touchdowns as well. The Titans rushed for 180 yards - cornerback Adoree Jackson is being used occasionally as a ball carrier back these days -- and held Cincinnati to 53. Titans kicker Ryan Succop's NFL record streak of made field goals inside 50 yards finally ended at 56 after his first attempt. He missed wide right on a 48-yarder midway through the second quarter.
Tennessee could be more lucky than good considering it has a point differential of minus-8 on the season. It is the only division leader without a positive number. To be fair, a 57-14 loss in Houston skews that number. By comparison, Jacksonville is at plus-92. Pittsburgh is plus-39.
Titans at Steelers Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Pittsburgh is a 7.5-point favorite (+115) with a total of 43.5. On the moneyline, the Steelers are -300 and Titans +250. On the alternate lines, Pittsburgh is -7 (-105) and -6.5 (-125). The Titans are 3-5-1 against the spread (1-3 on road) and 6-3 "over/under" (2-2 on road). The Steelers are 5-4 ATS (2-1 at home) and 1-8 O/U (1-2 at home).
Tennessee is 7-20 ATS in its past 27 on the road. It is 0-3-1 ATS in its past four November games. Pittsburgh is 4-0-1 ATS in its previous five after an ATS loss. It is 5-1 ATS in its past six vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 8-3 in Tennessee's previous 11 vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 4-0 in the Steelers' past four on Thursday.
Titans at Steelers Betting Prediction
Not much to take from last meeting in 2014, a 27-24 Pittsburgh win in Nashville, considering Mariota was at Oregon, Derrick Henry at Alabama and Murray with the Dallas Cowboys. Zach Mettenberger was the Titans' QB that day. Bell rushed for 204 yards and a score on 33 carries.
If you watch this game, it's going to look different on NBC. The network will rely on SkyCam coverage to provide the primary viewing angles. Basically, it will look more like the Madden video game, and NBC is hoping this lures in younger viewers. It used SkyCam for the Falcons-Patriots game on Sunday night a few weeks ago out of necessity due to fog. It was pretty interesting.
Go Steelers on that 6.5-point alternate line and under the total.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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