Still within striking range of the division-leading Baltimore Ravens in a tough AFC North, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a golden opportunity to pick up another win as they play host to the Detroit Lions, who are still looking to get head coach Dan Campbell his first victory.
It hasn’t been pretty at times, but Pittsburgh has won four games in a row and keeps figuring out ways to piece victories together even without its trademark explosive offense. On the other hand, Jared Goff and the Lions just can’t get out of their own way.
|Detroit Lions||+9 (-125)||+310||o42½ (-110)|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||-9 (+105)||-370||u42½ (-110)|
The Steelers have owned the Lions this century, winning the last five meetings (going back to 2001), the most recent win coming back in 2017. However, historically, the series has been much closer as Pittsburgh leads it 17-14-1.
In the last matchup, all the offense Detroit could muster up was five Matt Prater field goals while Ben Roethlisberger threw for 317 yards and Le’Veon Bell ran for 76 more. JuJu Smith-Schuster had a huge day, catching seven passes for 193 yards and a touchdown.
Next game: at Browns
The Lions’ season-opening skid reached eight games in an ugly 44-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles before last week’s bye. Detroit had no chance from the get-go, as the Eagles scored early and often — four rushing touchdowns split between Boston Scott and Jordan Howard — while the Lions just couldn’t move the ball.
Detroit, obviously, didn’t cover as three-point home underdogs and the over barely hit on a meaningless late-game Jake Elliott field goal. It was a game to forget for Dan Campbell and Co. in a season full of those types of performances.
Detroit, as is expected for an 0-8 team, has been banged-up all year and is missing a few offensive line starters and promising young wide receiver Quintez Cephus. Running back Jamaal Williams (thigh), linebacker Austin Bryant, and kicker Austin Seibert are all questionable for Sunday’s game while defensive end Jashon Cornell (illness) is out. Defensive backs Corey Ballentine and Ifeatu Melifonwu are back to practice after returning from injured reserve.
Next game: at Chargers
Pittsburgh survived a late collapse against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, holding on to win 29-27 on a last-second Chris Boswell field goal after blowing a 10-point fourth-quarter lead. The Steelers dominated most of the game as seven-point home favorites but Justin Fields led Chicago back with an impressive drive.
Much of the talk afterward was about a questionable taunting penalty called on Bears defensive end Cassius Marsh that helped extend a Steelers’ drive and allowed them to kick a big field goal. The over (40 points) hit easily.
The Steelers won’t have Smith-Schuster (out for the season with shoulder surgery) and could also be without pass-catchers Eric Ebron (hamstring) and Chase Claypool (toe) as well. They’re listed as questionable. Roethlisberger is listed as questionable with shoulder and pectoral injuries but he has been fighting through those all season, so he should play.
Betting on the Game
It’s always tough to play a winless team this far into the NFL season because a good team like the Steelers doesn’t want to be the first win. The Lions have shown some fight and a willingness to go outside of the box in terms of play-calling, but the numbers are the numbers and Detroit has had one of football’s worst offenses and worst defenses. Bad combination.
So, it was a little surprising to see that the NFL betting odds are as confident in the Lions as they are right now. There hasn’t been much movement on the spread at the BetUS Sportsbook even with the Steelers playing well and being at home. That could be due to Detroit getting a post-bye week boost.
However, when it comes down to it, the Steelers should win this game going away. They haven’t exactly been blowing teams out in their wins, but the near-loss to the Bears should be a big wakeup call so you should expect a much crisper Pittsburgh performance on Sunday. If you’re making NFL picks against the spread, you could do a lot worse than taking Pittsburgh and laying the points.
Mike Tomlin’s team is just 23rd in scoring offense in the NFL but has the eighth-best scoring defense. Pittsburgh’s defensive playmakers — especially T.J. Watt — have stepped up lately and the front seven should be able to get a lot of pressure on Goff.
If you’re betting online on the over/under in this game, consider the under. Neither team has been especially good at scoring points and both rely heavily on the running game, which should speed things up a bit.