Steelers-Raiders Betting Preview: Can You Trust Pittsburgh to Cover This Lofty Spread?

Steelers-Raiders Betting Preview: Can You Trust Pittsburgh to Cover This Lofty Spread? article feature image

USA Today Sports. Pictured: Mike Tomlin, Jon Gruden

Betting odds: Pittsburgh Steelers at Oakland Raiders

  • Spread: Steelers -10
  • Over/Under: 51
  • Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FOX

>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets

Betting market: The Steelers are not a popular pick, as bettors aren’t willing to lay all those points following Pittsburgh’s loss to the Chargers. I’m sure James Conner’s injury hasn’t helped their case, either.

The Raiders have gotten 55% of bets and 80% of the cash as of writing (see live data here), moving from +11.5 to +10 since opening. Mark Gallant

Trends to know: Home underdogs of 10 or more points have gone 46-33 (58%) against the spread since 2003. Late in the season (December and January), these teams have gone 25-8 (76%) ATS, according to our Bet Labs data.

The Raiders covered as 14-point home dogs to the Chiefs last week. John Ewing

Ben Roethlisberger is 0-3 ATS in Oakland, making it one of two places that he has no career ATS wins and three ATS losses. The other is Tennessee.

What differentiates Oakland? He’s 1-2 straight-up in Tennessee, but 0-3 SU in Oakland. Evan Abrams

Did you know? This is the first time since October 2013 that the Steelers have lost the turnover battle in three consecutive games. They’re 3-5 SU and 2-6 ATS after losing the turnover battle in three consecutive games under Mike Tomlin, failing to cover by 4.7 points per game. Abrams

This has been a nightmare spot for Tomlin: On the road against a team under .500:

  • Tomlin on the road vs. teams below .500: 15-29-1 (34.1%) ATS
  • Tomlin on the road vs. teams .500 or better: 28-13 (68.2%) ATS

The moneyline stats tell an even clearer picture: Tomlin is only 24-21 SU (-24.5% ROI) on the road vs. teams below .500, compared to 28-13 SU (+49.5% ROI) vs. teams .500 or better. You would expect those splits to be reversed!

That means Tomlin is twice as good on the road against elite opponents than he is on the road against weak opponents, which speaks to his “ra ra” style.

Tomlin’s teams constantly come out flat in these situations because he doesn’t have a way to fire them up against a team like the Raiders. Stuckey

Biggest mismatch: Steelers’ Passing Offense vs. Raiders’ Passing Defense

Even if the Steelers don’t put up lots of points, they should still be able to move the ball against the Raiders through the air.

Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger

Roethlisberger ranks first in the league with 517 attempts and 3,945 yards passing. Under former quarterbacks coach and first-year offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, Roethlisberger leads all quarterbacks with 546 dropbacks. The Steelers are also second with a 67.2% pass rate.

Roethlisberger is on pace to smash his career-high mark of 608 attempts that he set in 2014, when he led the league with 4,952 yards passing.

The Raiders rank dead last in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA, but they’re amazingly first in pass DVOA against No. 1 wide receivers, so this might not be the week to stack Roethlisberger with Antonio Brown, especially since 2018 has been the least efficient season of Brown’s career.

The Raiders have been repeatedly exploited by slot receivers and tight ends, though, which means they could struggle to stop the Steelers — particularly JuJu Smith-Schuster, Vance McDonald and Jesse James. Matthew Freedman

Which team is healthier? Raiders

The Steelers will turn to Jaylen Samuels and Stevan Ridley with Conner (ankle) sidelined. They could also be without right tackle Marcus Gilbert (knee) and linebacker Anthony Chickillo (ankle), though slot receiver Ryan Switzer (concussion) and safety Morgan Burnett (back) are at least expected to play.

The Raiders are expected to have their entire lineup with the potential exception of linebacker Kyle Wilber (hamstring). Wide receiver Martavis Bryant (knee, IR) and free safety Reggie Nelson (shoulder, IR) will miss the remainder of the season.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

DFS edge: I agree with Freedman: Brown isn’t the same monster we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in recent seasons.

Still, AB’s absurd workload and status as the No. 1 receiver in the offense with the slate’s second-highest implied total sets him up exceptionally well against the Raiders’ league-worst secondary in pass DVOA.

Also helping matters is his historical dominance and enhanced workload with the Steelers’ No. 1 running back (Le’Veon Bell) sidelined. AB had at least 10 targets in all 13 games that Bell was sidelined from 2015-17.

You should add Samuels in the wake of Conner’s injury, but there’s a chance that we see the Steelers increase their pass-game volume even more without an established running back.

All that stands in their path is a Raiders’ secondary that doesn’t boast a single player graded among Pro Football Focus’ top 30 defensive backs this season.

AB might just be worth his position-high $9,000 price tag on DraftKings this week. Hartitz

Bet to watch: Under 51.5

A few trends point toward the Steelers scoring fewer points in this game than we might expect.

For one, Roethlisberger is the NFL’s worst quarterback as a double-digit favorite over the past 15 years. And as I mentioned above, this has been the least efficient season of Brown’s career — even after his triumphant 10-154-1 performance last week.

And despite their poor pass defense marks highlighted earlier, the Raiders haven’t allowed a 100-yard receiver all season, and most wide receivers who have had success against them have been non-alpha/slot-based players.

This doesn’t mean that Roethlisberger and Brown won’t be able to have success against the Raiders; it just means that to this point, the Raiders defense has been schemed to die by the paper cuts of halfback runs and quarterback check-downs rather than by the fell swoop of a No. 1 wide receiver.

If Roethlisberger and Brown aren’t connecting for big plays, the Steelers could put up points at a slower rate than expected, especially with the absence of Conner.

In the All-Pro Antonio era, Steelers road games have a 10-28 over/under record, which is good for a 44.9% return on investment for under bettors (per Bet Labs).

In fact, the Steelers have been the most profitable road team for under bettors in that time frame. Freedman

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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