Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:00 AM EST. Odds subject to change.
Pittsburgh +2½ +100 over Las Vegas
8:20 EST. Has any offensive coordinator received as much vitriol in one week as Pittsburgh's Matt Canada? Fans have literally started a petition to get the maligned play-caller fired. Unsurprisingly, the Steelers' offense has been stamped with a scarlet letter, with every other media pundit shouting in criticism about the Steelers' inability to produce more than 400 yards in a game for the last season-plus. All this negative sentiment despite the fact that Mike Tomlin, the Steelers' coach since 2007, has led his team to an 11-7-1 ATS mark during that span of time. This is the kind of skewed public perception we like to take advantage of, the kind that's inflated this line and made Pittsburgh up to 3-point underdogs at times this week, especially since Pittsburgh's very average offensive production has almost no effect on our handicap.
If we are going to discuss pure football, why aren't we all talking about the Raiders' offense instead? Public perception wants you to focus on the Steelers woes, but maybe that's not the side to inspect. These are some of the Raiders' marks, against defenses not as talented as the one's Pittsburgh faced, through two games: 30th in points per game, 30th in yards per game, 31st in INTs thrown, 31st in yards per rush, 30th in rush yards per game, 21st in pass yards per game.
Xs and Os don't play too much into any one of our bets, but if there's any statistical analysis we should pay attention to, it's how good each defense is. The data tells us that neither offense is a world-beater at this juncture. Defensively, one team has a significant edge. The Raiders have allowed 27 points per game, 355 yards per game, a 50% third down conversion rate, 4.9 yards per rush, and they only sack the QB on 5.33% of plays - all rankings in the bottom third among NFL defenses. Even worse, they allow a league-worst 81.69% completion percentage to opposing QBs through two games. Without even looking at the Steelers' defensive statistics, we could easily ascertain that Kenny Pickett is set up to have one of the best games of his young career against the Las Vegas defense.
By comparison, the Steelers' have only permitted a 53.06% completion percentage to opposing QBs, a top-10 mark, and they're 5th best in sack percentage. It's true that Pittsburgh has allowed way too many yards on the ground in Weeks 1 and 2, but that's bound for regression. The 49ers and Browns are two of the most potent rushing attacks in the NFL. It's been struggle-city for the Raiders on the ground, averaging only 2.6 yards per rush.
The thesis statement here is that the line is just plain wrong. We understand that the Steelers are on a short week after a somewhat fortunate run. Hell, their offense didn't even cross the Browns' 30-yard line in Week 2. But the Raiders' defense is full of holes. Pittsburgh has one of the best defensive players in the NFL in TJ Watt, and Allegiant Stadium is hardly a home-field advantage. We expect plenty of yellow color in the stadium this Sunday, and we anticipate the Steelers will cover and likely win outright.
Pittsburgh +2½ +112 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.24)