Steelers are road favorites against Texans on Christmas

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On top of missing wide receiver extraordinaire Antonio Brown, the Pittsburgh Steelers also take a dubious track record as a big favorite into their game against the Houston Texans on Christmas Day.

The Steelers are a nine-point road favorite (after opening as 10.5-point chalk) against the host Texans with a 45.5-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com for their NFL Week 16 Monday matchup.

The OddsShark NFL Database states that since 2004, when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was a rookie, Pittsburgh is 5-14 against the spread when favored by 7.5 or more points on the road. The Steelers, however, are 5-0 straight-up in their last five games on a Monday, while the Texans are 0-6 SU in their last six games as an underdog.

The Steelers, who are 11-3 SU and 6-8 ATS, were having enough trouble scoring points on the road when they had Brown, the 1,500-yard receiver. By the same token, Roethlisberger has other reliable receiving complements such as WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR Martavis Bryant and TE Jesse James, who are facing a Texans pass defense that is next-to-last in the NFL in yards per pass (8.2) and touchdown passes (27) allowed.

Despite all their injuries this season, the Texans have played the run well, so it might not be smooth sailing for RB Le’Veon Bell.

The Texans, who are 4-10 SU and 7-7 ATS, are reduced to starting third-string QB T.J. Yates behind an offensive line that has lost three starters since the outset of the season. Yates has completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes, while the makeshift O-line will have to stop Steelers DE Cameron Heyward.

Pittsburgh, which is 3-1 SU and ATS in its last four games against Houston, has been leaky against both the pass and the run lately, though. On the former count, CB Joe Haden is expected to play and help cover WR DeAndre Hopkins.

In the rushing phase, the Texans are reliable but unspectacular with veteran RB Lamar Miller. The success of Miller and the short passing game could help the Texans, who are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 late-afternoon starts, manufacture some time-consuming drives that keep the Steelers offense off the field.

The total has gone under in each of the Steelers’ last seven road games as a favorite of 7.5 or more points. The total has gone under in five of the Steelers’ last seven games in Week 16. The total has gone under in six of the Texans’ last seven games in Week 16.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Marcus Mariota can’t even explain his historic touchdown catch

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A touchdown pass to … yourself?!

That’s exactly what happened to Titans QB Marcus Mariota in Tennessee’s incredible 22-21 Wild Card victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs were up 21-3 entering halftime and appeared to be well on their way to advancing to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, but then Mariota made history with one of the craziest plays you’ll ever see:

With the six-yard touchdown, Mariota became the first player in NFL history to record a passing and receiving TD in a playoff game.

NFL Wild Card Weekend betting lines reflect recent favorites trend

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Wild Card Weekend has been ruled by favored teams recently – on the field, if not on the board. Favored teams are 10-2 straight-up in wild card games over the last three seasons. At the sportsbooks – and this seems germane with the home teams each laying at least six points this weekend – favorites are a more modest 7-4-1 against the spread.

The 2017 playoffs saw home teams go 4-0 SU and ATS in wild card games. Eighteen of the last 28 wild card games have gone under the posted total, with one push.

The Kansas City Chiefs are listed as 9-point favorites against the Tennessee Titans with a 44-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in a Saturday matchup. The Chiefs are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven playoff games as a favorite, but QB Alex Smith has had a stronger second half of the season than Marcus Mariota, his Titans counterpart.

Tennessee, which is 5-1 ATS in its last six games against the Chiefs, could be compromised offensively if DeMarco Murray (knee) is unable to play and spell off team rushing leader Derrick Henry. The total has gone over in five of the Titans’ last seven games against the Chiefs.

The Los Angeles Rams are 6.5-point betting favorites against the Atlanta Falcons with a 48.5-point total in the late Saturday matchup. The Rams and first-time playoff QB Jared Goff are just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 home games. However, Los Angeles, which lost its regular-season finale against the San Francisco 49ers, is 5-0 SU in its last five games after a loss.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan, whose team is 10-3 ATS in its last 13 night games, will not have his optimal offensive line in front of him as LG Andy Levitre (triceps) is out for the season. The Rams defense, led by DT Aaron Donald, has the third-highest tally of interceptions. The total has gone under in the Falcons’ last five games.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are nine-point betting favorites against the Buffalo Bills with a 39.5-point total in a Sunday matchup between teams that had a combined 26-year playoff drought (since 1999 for the Bills; 2007 for the Jags). The visiting team is 5-1 ATS in the last six games of this matchup, but Buffalo will likely only stand a chance if RB LeSean McCoy (ankle sprain) is healthy enough to play; there is no way he will be 100 percent.

The Jaguars, who are only 4-13 SU in their last 17 home games against teams with winning records, must hope QB Blake Bortles has some recent regression out of his system. The total has gone over in the Bills’ last five games against the Jaguars.

And the New Orleans Saints are listed as seven-point favorites against the Carolina Panthers with a 48-point total in a late Sunday betting matchup. The Panthers and QB Cam Newton are 0-5-1 ATS in their last six tries against the NFC South rival Saints and also boast the NFL’s 28th-ranked passing attack while the Saints are fifth through the air (each team’s pass defense is right in the middle of the rankings).

New Orleans and veteran QB Drew Brees are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games against divisional opponents, as well as 5-0 SU in their last five home playoff games. The total has gone over in six of the Panthers’ last seven games against the Saints. The total has also gone over in five of the Saints’ last six games in the wild card round.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.