Steelers vs Saints: NFL Week 10 Odds, Picks, Prediction
Chris Graythen/Getty Images. Pictured: Andy Dalton.
Steelers vs Saints Odds
Atlanta’s loss on Thursday night and the Bucs' matchup with the red-hot Seahawks have made for a tight race; if the Buccaneers lose, New Orleans could be a win away from being tied for the division lead by the time they kick off.
The Steelers, on the other hand, have shifted to rebuild mode. They shipped Chase Claypool to Chicago for a draft pick and will look to develop their young quarterback, Kenny Pickett. This has led to the league-worst ranking in point differential. The good news is that T.J. Watt’s return should help boost this defense and make these matchups more competitive.
Let’s take a deep dive to see who will beat the tight spread.
Steelers vs Saints Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how the Steelers and Steelers match up statistically:
Steelers vs Saints DVOA Breakdown
The Saints' offense has been surprising through the first half of the season. They rank 10th in points per game and sixth in yards per game. This has come from strong play in both the passing game and the running game, as they rank top-10 in per-attempt efficiency in both.
The troubles for this Saints offense have come in the form of ball control. They have turned the ball over 17 times this year, which ranks third worst. The switch to Andy Dalton from Jameis Winston has helped but has not solved the problem. With Winston, the Saints had 3.3 turnovers per game and with Dalton, that number is 1.3 — which would still rank bottom third in the league.
This offense is far exceeding expectations when they aren’t turning the ball over. Dalton has played to PFF’s sixth-best quarterback grade, better than even his best Cincinnati years. Rookie Chris Olave is looking like the best receiver from a loaded class. He has not been under 50 yards receiving since the opening week.
When all else fails, New Orleans still has Alvin Kamara, who went crazy two weeks ago with 158 yards and three touchdowns. This offense has what it takes to frustrate defenses if they stop shooting themselves in the foot.
Saints -1.5 | Steelers +1.5
On the defensive side, the Saints haven’t lived up to expectations, but they still are not as bad as they look. The optics are bad because New Orleans has allowed the fourth most points per game. However, the glass-half-full view is they have allowed the 11th fewest yards per game.
The biggest issue with the defense has been the fault of the offense. All those turnovers by the offense have frequently led to points or put the opposing offense in a good position. Per Pro Football Reference, opponents have the best starting field position against the Saints.
The other problem is New Orleans ranks 29th in turnovers forced which give opponents more opportunities. Even if they fail to force more turnovers, as long as the offense doesn’t continue to put them in a bad position, this defense should start to look better.
Turning to the Steelers, this has simply not been a good year for their offense. They rank 27th in yards per drive and last in points per drive. Moving to a rookie quarterback does limit expectations for the passing game, but the running game has done nothing to help.
Pittsburgh ranks 27th in yards per carry, and Najee Harris is worse than that at 3.3 yards per carry. Rookie Jaylen Warren is rumored to be getting more opportunities to try something new, but the Steelers still have a bottom 11 run-blocking offensive line, so there might be little anyone could do.
In the passing game, I don’t think anyone is doubting the Steelers' weapons. Diontae Johnson, Pat Freiermuth, and George Pickens look like the balanced young receiving core every GM wants. The problem is finding the right guy to get them the ball.
Pickett has shown flashes of good but also plenty of “Oh my, what was that?” moments. With a potential high pick on the way, the Steelers might need to see a lot more out of him, especially with several good QB candidates in this year’s draft.
As for the defense, it is hard to say how much we can glean from the last few weeks thanks to Watt’s return. Few players can completely redefine the defense the way he can. His presence opens opportunities for the rest of the defenders and he can make good plays into game-changing moments — for example, turning a sack into a forced fumble and turnover. Through the second half of the season, Watt’s return will have playoff-hopeful teams hoping they don’t cross the Steelers' path.
As we enter the second half of the season, we will transition to borderline playoff teams playing with more on the line and struggling teams developing young players. Despite only a slight disparity in record, these teams fall into opposite buckets.
The Saints are still in a tight, albeit lackluster, playoff race. With each game being more and more important. The Steelers are pretty much out of the playoff picture and just trying to figure out what will work next year.
This means the Steelers will be experimenting on offense and trying to gain as much insight into Pickett as they can, while the Saints will be focused on doing whatever it takes to win.
Yes, there is the worry that Watt and the Steelers’ D will capitalize on the Saints' turnover-prone nature. But, Pittsburgh’s porous offense gives little threat of turning New Orleans’ mistakes into touchdowns.
Pittsburgh has won just one game with Pickett as the starter, which was Week 6 against Tampa Bay. However, Mitch Trubisky was the quarterback in that game late making the big third-down conversions. Until proven otherwise, I am not going to trust the Steelers to do much offensively. And I will hope the Saints don’t shoot themselves in the foot too badly.
Back the Saints to make the NFC South a neck-and-neck race for first to eight wins.
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