Pittsburgh Steelers (5-9) at Green Bay Packers (7-6-1)
Aaron Rodgers is out for this one and, given that, it’s a little absurd that the Packers are favorites here at home. The Steelers are better than their 6-8 record. They’ve just been killed by a 1-5 record in games decided by a touchdown or less. In DVOA, they rank 13th. They are moving the chains at a 71.60% rate, as opposed to 70.64% for their opponents, a differential of 0.95% that ranks 13th in the NFL.
The Packers are moving the chains at a 74.28% rate, as opposed to 74.32% for their opponents, a differential of -0.04% that ranks 15th in the NFL. That suggests this line should be at about 2, which is right around where it is (2.5), but, remember, much of what’s buoying the Packers’ rank in rate of moving the chains differential was done when Aaron Rodgers was the starter. Given that it’ll be Matt Flynn here this week, it’s absurd that they’re favored. The Steelers might have the better defense and offense in this one and they’re getting points.
Matt Flynn’s numbers since joining the Packers are pretty good, as he’s completing 63.8% of his passes for an average of 7.20 YPA, 6 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. However, you have to consider that in 3 of the 4 games he’s played, he faced 3 of the worst defenses in the NFL (Minnesota, Atlanta, Dallas). You can’t ignore his performance against Detroit, when he completed 10 of 20 for 139 yards and a pick in a 40-10 loss on Thanksgiving. Pittsburgh’s defense isn’t what it used to be, but it’s at least comparable to Detroit’s. Flynn won’t have nearly the success he’s had against cupcake defenses.
Speaking of cupcake defenses, Matt Flynn shredded a Dallas defense that is worst in the NFL last week, in an upset comeback win by 1 point. They could suffer a hangover effect after such a big win. Home favorites are 24-40 ATS since 2002 off of a win by 1-3 points as road underdogs of 3 or more. On top of that, Pittsburgh is in a great spot with no distractions left on their schedule, as they only face Cleveland in Pittsburgh next week. Teams are 116-86 ATS as non-divisional road underdogs before being divisional home favorites since 2002. The Packers are going to have a hard time beating a superior, focused opponent at home, especially if they’re hung over after last week, and the fact that we’re getting points with Pittsburgh just sweetens the deal. I have a good deal of confidence in the Steelers.
Pittsburgh Steelers 24 Green Bay Packers 17 Upset Pick +115
Pick against spread: Pittsburgh +2.5