Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-0)
This line shifted from 2.5 in favor of the Chiefs on the early line last week to 4.5 this week, crossing through key lines of 3 and 4. Typically, line movements like that are overreactions to a single week of play and create line value and this game is no different. The line moved because the Steelers lost 30-9 at home last week to the Jaguars, but that was largely because of a -4 turnover margin and turnover margins tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis.
Teams coming off of a game in which they had a -4 turnover margin, on average, have a turnover margin of +0.1 that following game. A prime example of the inconsistency of turnover margins is the Steelers’ opponent last week the Jaguars, who league the lead with a +10 turnover margin after finishing with a -16 turnover margin in 2016. Given the inconsistency of turnover margins, I still have this line calculated at -2.5, so we’re getting some line value with the Steelers at +4.5, especially since about 3 in 10 games are decided by 4 points or less.
The Steelers’ offense has not been what we’re used to from them, but they’re finally healthy on the offensive line and their defense is as good as it’s been in years. The Chiefs rank 1st in first down rate at 42.63%, but they are unlikely to continue averaging 5.70 yards per carry and they will probably turn the ball over more often over the final 11 games of the season, after just 1 turnover in their first 5 games (the all-time record is 10 turnovers in a 16-game season). They’re also banged up offensively, missing center Mitch Morse, right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, #2 receiver Chris Conley with injury. Meanwhile, they haven’t been the same defensively since losing safety Eric Berry for the season.
They’ve trailed in the 2nd half in 3 of 5 games and rank just 7th in first down rate differential at +3.63%. They’ve had closer calls than their box scores would suggest and the Steelers could easily steal one here, especially since the Chiefs have to play again in 4 days against the Raiders on Thursday Night Football. Favorites are 59-90 ATS since 2008 before Thursday Night Football. Even if the Steelers don’t win straight up, I still like their chances of keeping this one close and covering as 4.5 point underdogs.
Kansas City Chiefs 24 Pittsburgh Steelers 23
Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh +4.5