Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) at St. Louis Rams (1-1)
Anyone who follows me knows I love to go against significant line movements, as they tend to be overreactions to one week. This game has one of those, as the Rams have gone from 2.5 point favorites to 2 point underdogs here at home in the past week. It’s easy to understand why. The Rams lost as favorites in Washington, while the Steelers destroyed the visiting San Francisco 49ers last week. However, that was still just one week. What about the Rams’ victory over the Seahawks in St. Louis week 1? That game made everyone overreact last week, moving the line in both the St. Louis/Washington and the Green Bay/Seattle game significantly, but now everyone seems to be overreacting the other way, as the public is on the road favorite here. I love fading the public whenever it makes sense and it does here.
The line movement is still within the field goal on either side, but it’s still significant. The Steelers have had troubling getting up for these seemingly easy non-divisional road games in the past, going 8-20 ATS as non-divisional road favorites since 2007. They also just don’t really deserve to be road favorites here. This line suggests the Steelers are 5 points better than the Rams, meaning they’d be -8 at home against the Rams. Well, they were just -5.5 at home for the 49ers. I know the Steelers blew the 49ers out, but that’s still just one week. The Rams aren’t a great team because they lack much on offense around the quarterback, but they still had one of the best defenses in the league last year, a unit that is led by arguably the best defensive line in football and a unit that has played well thus far this season, and they upgraded at the quarterback position by adding Nick Foles this off-season.
The Steelers have a good offense and will get even better on the offensive side of the ball with Le’Veon Bell back from suspension, but they’re still missing center Maurkice Pouncey and wide receiver Martavis Bryant from an offense that was basically injury free last season. Meanwhile, their defense remains a huge problem and one that won’t get better with both nose tackle Daniel McClullers and middle linebacker Ryan Shazier hurt. Those are two of the few bright spots thus far on a defense that has ranked 30th in rate of moving the chains allowed through 2 games, after ranking 25th last season. The Rams, on the other hand, are healthier than they’ve been all season, with both Todd Gurley and Brian Quick seemingly set to return, in some capacity, from injury this week.
On top of that, the Steelers are in a bad spot with a Thursday Night game against Baltimore on deck. That could easily be a distraction, especially with a short week up next. Teams are 41-62 ATS as favorites before Thursday Night Football since 2008. Considering the Steelers have typically overlooked weak non-divisional opponents on the road like this in the Mike Tomlin era, the Steelers could have a very tough team getting up for this game with a Thursday Night battle against their archrival on deck. This game screams trap game and I’m happy to take the points as long as I’m getting them.
St. Louis Rams 24 Pittsburgh Steelers 17 Upset Pick +110
Pick against the spread: St. Louis +2