Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-5)
Ben Roethlisberger has missed the last 3 games with injury, but he practiced some this week and has travelled to Kansas City for this game. He’s not expected to play, but the possibility that he is able to go is worth thinking about when taking a side in this one. He reportedly could talk his way into starting, but it sounds unlikely. That severely hurts the Steelers’ chances. The Steelers moved the chains at a 78.65% rate in the first 3 games of their season with Roethlisberger, but have moved them at just a 62.20% rate over the past 3 weeks.
They’ve gone 2-1 in those 3 games, but have lost the rate of moving the chains battle in all 3. They won at the last second in San Diego and could have easily lost by 10 if not for a Philip Rivers pick six, a long touchdown throw from Michael Vick, and 3 dropped Vick interceptions by the Chargers’ defense. With the exception of a few plays, they were dominated in that game. Last week, at home for Arizona, they only won because they won the turnover battle by 3, which is tough to rely on. Teams who win the turnover battle by 3, on average, have a turnover margin of +0.1 the following week.
Michael Vick was awful in Roethlisberger’s absence, but it’ll be 3rd string quarterback Landry Jones in this one, as Vick is hurt as well. The Steelers have called up Tyler Murphy from the practice squad, a sign that Roethlisberger is not expected to be active, and he should backup Jones. Jones played well in Vick’s absence last week, completing 8 of 12 for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns. It’s worth mentioning that the Cardinals were likely just caught unprepared for Jones and Jones had never attempted a pass in his career prior to last week, but he’s got a great offensive supporting cast around him and is an upgrade over Vick, who is done.
This one is really tough to predict, as a result of the Steelers’ quarterback situation. The Steelers’ defense has been better this season than last season, to compensate for their offense, but they’ll be without breakout star Stephon Tuitt in this one. On the other side, the Chiefs could be without starters Dontari Poe and Mike DeVito on the defensive line and are also without stud running back Jamaal Charles. They rank 28th in rate of moving the chains. It’s still hard to take the Steelers as just 3 point underdogs, but they’re the side I’m taking, especially with the Chiefs going into a London game next week. Teams are just 6-18 ATS before a London game all-time.
Kansas City Chiefs 17 Pittsburgh Steelers 16
Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh +3