Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers: 2022 Week 14 NFL Pick

Baltimore Ravens (8-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7)

A week ago on the early line, the Ravens were favored by four points, but this line has since shifted all the way to Pittsburgh -2. The reason for that line movement is understandable, as the Ravens will be without franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson due to injury and a 6-point line movement is about right for him being out, but I think the original line at -4 would have been too low if Jackson started, so we’re still getting line value with the Ravens, even without Jackson.

While the Ravens have four losses, they have blown two-score leads in all of them and they lead the NFL in time spent leading. In terms of point differential, the Ravens rank 7th at +49 and in schedule adjusted efficiency they rank 3rd, about 7 points above average. They’re obviously not as good without Jackson, but they are getting healthier in other parts of their roster and they are still a significantly better team than the Steelers, despite this line suggesting they’re about even, favoring the Steelers at home by just a couple points.

Top receiving threat Mark Andrews, top running back Gus Edwards, stud left tackle Ronnie Stanley, talented defensive lineman Calais Campbell, starting edge defenders Justin Houston and Tyus Bowser, talented safeties Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams, and starting cornerback Marcus Peters have all missed time for the Ravens with injury thus far this season, but are expected to play this week and I think the Ravens’ improved health in other parts of their roster has gone overlooked with Jackson out. I would need this line to be a full field goal for the Ravens to be worth betting against the spread, but they’re a good value on the money line at +110, as they should be the ones slightly favored in this game, with backup Tyler Huntley being one of the better backups in the league and having a relatively healthy supporting cast around him. 

Baltimore Ravens 19 Pittsburgh Steelers 17 Upset Pick +110

Pick against the spread: Baltimore +2

Confidence: Low

Pittsburgh Steelers at Atlanta Falcons: 2022 Week 13 NFL Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-7) at Atlanta Falcons (5-7)

I think both of these teams are underrated, so I’m disappointed they’re playing each other, as there isn’t an obvious side to pick in this one. The Steelers are just 4-7, but they’ve arguably faced the toughest schedule in the league, with eight of their eleven games being against teams that are currently .500 or better, with two of the exceptions being the Browns and Saints, who are both better than their records would indicate. In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, the Steelers rank 18th, about one point below average, and that’s despite the fact that they have been without their top defender TJ Watt for much of the season. He returned a few weeks ago, giving them a big boost on that side of the ball.

The Falcons, meanwhile, actually rank 13th in schedule adjusted efficiency, about one point above average and two points ahead of the Steelers. My roster rankings suggest the Falcons have overperformed their talent level, but they still are only about a point behind the Steelers in my roster rankings. My calculated line gives the home team Falcons a slightly better chance to win this game and, as a result, cover this even spread than the Steelers, but only barely, so this is one of my lowest confidence picks.

Atlanta Falcons 24 Pittsburgh Steelers 23

Pick against the spread: Atlanta PK

Confidence: None

Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts: 2022 Week 12 NFL Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-7) at Indianapolis Colts (4-6-1)

A week ago on the early line, the Steelers were 3-point underdogs, but this line has since shifted to 2.5, a pretty significant shift, given that about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal. Normally I like to go against significant week-to-week line movements like that because they tend to be an overreaction to a single week of play, but, in this case, I’m disappointed that we’ve lost line value with the Steelers, who would have been a good bet at +3.

The Steelers are just 3-7, but they’ve arguably faced the toughest schedule in the league, with eight of their ten games being against teams that are currently .500 or better, with the exceptions being the Browns and Saints, who are both better than their records would indicate. The Steelers’ -74 point differential is worst in the league and even worse than their record would suggest, but in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, which takes into account their level of competition, the Steelers rank 18th, despite the fact that for most of the season they have been without their top defensive player TJ Watt, who has since returned.

It’s very possible that this matchup in Indianapolis against the Colts will be the Steelers’ easiest game of the season thus far. The Colts rank 24th and three points below average in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency (significantly worse than both the Browns and the Saints) and they are unlikely to be any better than that going forward, missing a pair of key defenders, Kwity Pawe and Shaq Leonard, for an indefinite period of time. 

Despite that, this line suggests these two teams are about even, so we’re getting good line value with the Steelers, who I have calculated as 1-point favorites. I think I would need this line to go back up to three for the Steelers to be worth betting against the spread, but I might change my mind on that, the money line is a good value at +120 because the Steelers should be considered no worse than 50/50 to win this game, and the Steelers should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes either way.

Pittsburgh Steelers 19 Indianapolis Colts 17 Upset Pick +120

Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh +2.5

Confidence: Low

Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers: 2022 Week 11 NFL Pick

Cincinnati Bengals (5-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6)

The Steelers are just 3-6, but they’ve faced one of the toughest schedules in the league, facing a .500 or better team in seven of their nine games. When strength of schedule is factored in, the Steelers actually rank 15th in overall efficiency, right about below average, and they’ve done that without their top defensive player and reigning Defensive Player of the Year TJ Watt for most of the season. In fact, this will be the Steelers’ first game with both Watt and arguably their second best defensive player Minkah Fitzpatrick both in the lineup at the same time since week 1.

The Bengals are better than their 5-4 record as well, with an average margin of victory of 14.0 points per game, leading to them ranking 5th in the league with +43 point differential and ranking 6th in schedule adjusted efficiency, about four points above average. They’re going in the wrong direction injury wise though, missing top wide receiver JaMarr Chase and top cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, leading to the Bengals only having a three point edge over the healthier Steelers in my roster rankings. 

With the Steelers being at home, it’s hard to justify them being 4-point underdogs and my calculated line suggests they should be underdogs of just 1 point. With that in mind, the Steelers are worth betting this week, though this will be a smaller play because the Bengals are in a great spot off of a bye, as road favorites of 3.5 or more cover at a 62.6% rate after a bye. The Bengals don’t deserve to be favored by that many points though, so I’m still pretty confident in the Steelers keeping this close and potentially pulling the home upset.

Cincinnati Bengals 24 Pittsburgh Steelers 23

Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh +4

Confidence: Medium

New Orleans Saints at Pittsburgh Steelers: 2022 Week 10 NFL Pick

New Orleans Saints (3-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6)

These two teams have similar records, but the Saints have a -15 point differential, despite a -10 turnover margin, while the Steelers have a -77 point differential, with a -4 turnover margin. That suggests the Saints have played much better to this point this season, but the Steelers have also faced a much tougher schedule, one of the toughest in the league and the gap between these two teams in schedule adjusted efficiency is not that wide, with the Saints ranking 15th, about even, and the Steelers ranking 18th, about 1.5 points below average.

The Steelers also are the healthier team this week, with reigning Defensive Player of the Year TJ Watt set to make his return for the first time since week one, while the Saints remain without top wide receiver Michael Thomas, starting guard Andrus Peat, and top cornerback Marshon Lattimore and now will be without starting safety Marcus Maye, starting linebacker Pete Werner, and starting center Erik McCoy. The Saints will get starting wide receiver Jarvis Landry back this week, but they’re still missing a lot of talent.

With the injury situation both teams are in, I have these two teams about even, but this line favors the Saints on the road by a point and a half. My calculated line has the Steelers as the ones who should be slight favorites, so we’re getting at least some line value with them. It’s not quite enough for them to be worth betting against the spread, but the money line is a good value at +105 and the Steelers are the better side for pick ‘em purposes.

Pittsburgh Steelers 19 New Orleans Saints 17 Upset Pick +105

Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh +1.5

Confidence: Low

Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles: 2022 Week 8 NFL Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (6-0)

The Eagles are the league’s last remaining undefeated team, but they’ve been very reliant on the turnover margin, leading the league by far with a +12 turnover margin. That’s a concern because turnovers are not really predictive week-to-week and, in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, which is much more predictive, the Eagles rank just 5th, ranking 13th, 7th, and 25th on offense, defense, and special teams respectively. That’s still impressive, but it’s not as impressive as their record and puts them outside the top few teams in the league.

The Eagles are also in a tough spot here having to turn around again and play on Thursday Night Football next week. Favorites cover at just a 42.3% rate before Thursday Night Football and the Eagles, favored by 10.5, could easily take their foot off the gas in the second half and allow a backdoor cover, even if they do manage to get a big lead. We’re not getting much line value with the Steelers, with my calculated line having them as 10 point underdogs, but that would change if TJ Watt ends up making his return this week from a 6-game absence, which seems more likely than not at this point. If that happens and this line doesn’t shift drastically, I will strongly consider a bet on the Steelers.

Philadelphia Eagles 26 Pittsburgh Steelers 17

Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh +10.5

Confidence: Low

Pittsburgh Steelers at Miami Dolphins: 2022 Week 7 NFL Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4) at Miami Dolphins (3-3)

Two weeks ago, the Steelers were demolished in a 38-3 blowout in Buffalo, losing the first down rate battle by 6.42% and the yards per play battle by 5.17, but they bounced back in a big way last week, pulling an upset victory over the Buccaneers as 9.5-point underdogs. While that was a surprise, it shouldn’t have been too surprising to see those results back-to-back, as teams tend to bounce back in a big way after being blown out, covering the spread at a 58.6% rate after a loss by 35 points or more.

Unfortunately, the flip side of that is also true, as teams tend to struggle after big upset wins, covering the spread at a 41.3% rate after a win as home underdogs of five points or more. That’s primarily because teams tend to be overconfident and overrated after an upset win. In this case, it’s very possible the Steelers could be overconfident, but I don’t think they are overrated. In fact, despite the Steelers’ upset win last week, this line shifted from favoring the Dolphins by 4.5 on the early line last week to now favoring them by 7.5.

That line shift happened because the Dolphins get quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater back from injuries this week, but it was always likely one of those quarterbacks would be back for this game and, even with Tagovailoa under center, 7.5 points is too high. Even when Tagovailoa was healthy earlier this season, the Dolphins’ only win by more than one score came in a game in which they won the turnover margin by 3, but lost the first down rate battle by 0.85% and only won the yards per play battle by 0.18, a concern because yards and first downs are significantly more predictive week-to-week than turnovers.

The Dolphins still rank 11th in schedule adjusted efficiency, which is based on yards per play and first down rate, even with the injuries they’ve had at quarterback, but the Steelers are only 1.5 points behind them, ranked 16th. My roster rankings have a bigger 3-point gap between these two teams, but, either way, it’s hard to justify this line being all the way at 7.5. My calculated line is Miami -4.5, so we’re getting significant line value with the Steelers. 

There’s a chance the Steelers are flat this week after such a big home upset win over the Buccaneers last week, but, even with that taken into account, they are at least worth consideration for a bet. I’m leaving this as a low confidence pick for now, but depending on the status of a pair of key Miami players who are questionable, left tackle Terron Armstead and edge defender Emmanuel Ogbah, I may end up betting on the Steelers.

Miami Dolphins 24 Pittsburgh Steelers 19

Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh +7.5

Confidence: Low

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Pittsburgh Steelers: 2022 Week 6 NFL Pick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4)

The Steelers were blown out last week in Buffalo, losing the first down rate battle by 6.42% and the yards per play battle by 5.17 in a 38-3 defeat. That normally is a good thing for their chances of covering the spread this week though, as teams tend to bounce back after a blowout loss, covering the spread at a 58.4% rate after a loss by 35 points or more, with teams tending to be underrated, overlooked, and embarrassed in that spot. 

We did see this line move from favoring the Buccaneers by 6.5 points on the early line to now favoring the Buccaneers by 9.5, but that’s not necessarily an overreaction to the Steelers getting blown out last week, as the Steelers are have significant injury concerns in their secondary now, with talented safety Minkah Fitzpatrick out, as well as their top-3 cornerbacks, Ahkello Witherspoon, Cameron Sutton, and Levi Wallace. This is on a defense that is already far from its best without top edge defender TJ Watt.

Given all of the Steelers’ injuries, my calculated line has the Buccaneers favored by 11 points. That may seem high, but the Buccaneers are one of the best teams in the league, while the Steelers have had a propensity to get blown out in recent years, with 10 of their 17 losses coming by double digits, including playoffs. There’s not nearly enough line value with the Buccaneers to take them confidently given that the Steelers are in the better spot, but the Buccaneers should still be the pick for pick ‘em purposes.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30 Pittsburgh Steelers 20

Pick against the spread: Tampa Bay -9.5

Confidence: None

Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills: 2022 Week 5 NFL Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3) at Buffalo Bills (3-1)

The Bills won a close game over the Ravens last week, but that was an anomaly for this team over the past two seasons, as they previously were 0-7 in one-score games since the start of last season, including playoffs. The flip side of that is all 14 of their wins over the past two seasons, including playoffs, came by 12 points or more, prior to last week’s 3-point victory in Baltimore. Even with last week’s win taken into account, the Bills have an average margin of victory of 22.1 points per game, leading to them ranking 1st in schedule adjusted efficiency in each of the past two seasons.

That suggests this should be another blowout for the Bills, at home against a Steelers team with a mediocre offense and a defense that is not nearly as good without TJ Watt. The Steelers are just 1-3, rank 23rd in schedule adjusted efficiency, and could be 0-4 if they didn’t win a game week one in which the Bengals turned the ball over five times and missed two makeable game winning kicks, also the only game of the season in which Watt played. That being said, this line is all the way up to 14 and this game actually could be closer than people think, for a couple reasons.

For one, the Bills are not nearly at full strength due to injury. Already without arguably their two best defensive backs Tre’Davious White and Micah Hyde, they’ll be without their third star defensive back Jordan Poyer this week, while tight end Dawson Knox and slot receiver Jamison Crowder are out and every down linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and defensive tackles Ed Oliver and Jordan Phillips are highly questionable. 

The Bills are also in a tough spot with a much bigger game against the Chiefs on deck, with favorites of more than a touchdown covering at just a 42% rate all-time before facing an opponent with a winning percentage 50% higher than their current opponent, which is likely to be the case here. I can’t take the Steelers with any confidence unless all of the questionable Bills are out, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes either way, with the Bills banged up and likely to overlook this game, in between a big win against the Ravens and a game against the Chiefs next week.

Buffalo Bills 26 Pittsburgh Steelers 13

Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh +14

Confidence: None

New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers: 2022 Week 4 NFL Pick

New York Jets (1-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2)

I’ve mentioned before that +3.5 covers the spread more than any other number, doing so 53.0% of the time, which is actually a profitable winning percentage even with the vig. That’s because of how many games are decided by exactly 3 points, 1 in 6, with 1 in 4 being decided by 3 points or fewer. This game seems like it has a strong likelihood to be a close game, so I’m drawn to the Jets as 3.5 point underdogs. I do have the Steelers about a point better in my roster rankings than the Jets, but I’m not sure if that justifies this line being at 3.5. This is one of my lower confidence picks, but the Jets are the pick for pick ‘em purposes.

Pittsburgh Steelers 20 New York Jets 17

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +3.5

Confidence: None