Welcome to a potentially meaningful meaningless game.
Mountain State bettors have a major intangible (sentiment) to forecast into the Monday night matchup between the underdog Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field.
With both teams stuck on seven victories and unlikely to make the playoffs, this could be Big Ben’s swan song — yes, Ben Roethlisberger’s final appearance ever at Heinz Field.
That should produce a wave of emotion on its own.
The gravity of this moment may be temporarily buried beneath some storylines proclaiming the long-shot odds of the Steelers reaching the playoffs.
Scenarios involving the Steelers winning out by beating the Browns and then the Ravens on the road, before getting a mountain of help, overlook one thing.
Even that development (so remote it could be termed a miracle parlay) would leave the Steelers in a road playoff game.
Roethlisberger figures to retire after the season. So this is it.
Pittsburgh Steelers Odds At WV Sportsbooks
Roethlisberger is an icon for the Steelers franchise.
The Steelers should be pumped for that alone. Roethlisberger has two Super Bowl rings, enjoys a career dating back to 2004 and has the fifth-highest passing yardage total in NFL history. Only Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre have more.
Roethlisberger is a future Hall of Famer. And this could be his last home rodeo.
That should matter to the Steelers, who have been gritty, yet unspectacular.
They have bumped to a 7-7-1 mark while Roethlisberger has hobbled through the season. He can’t scramble, which elevates the importance of his waning arm strength. His receivers drop too many passes. The offense is out of sync for the second straight year.
The Steelers lack big-play capability, and Chase Claypool has not been the deep-threat receiver he was last year.
Sunday’s 36-10 bottoming out against the Kansas City Chiefs indicated that they are just a notch above average.
But for one night, they could be primed to perform above average.
Other Motivating Factors For The Steelers
Mike Tomlin has never suffered a losing season as the Steelers coach. That means a lot to him and the team.
The Steelers have recently embraced the home-field edge, going 5-0-1.
Najee Harris has been an exceptional first-round pick. His numbers continue to impress. Harris’ 93 yards rushing stood out for Pittsburgh against Kansas City.
Diontae Johnson caught the lone touchdown pass Roethlisberger threw last week. He’s been, for the most part, reliable.
DraftKings West Virginia’s early-bird special calls for Harris and Nick Chubb of Cleveland to combine for 174.5 rushing yards, and it’s +100. This is square odds, as Pittsburgh is one of the league’s worst rushing defenses.
The argument for: These are two excellent players, and Harris is a featured back.
The argument against: Chubb platoons, and one can’t be assured of how many carries he’ll get. Chubb would have to pop a chunk play for this bet to come in.
Steelers Betting Considerations At DraftKings
The Steelers would be significant value for bettors who believe they can reach 10 points first, +125, or 15 points first, +155.
These teams played a five-point nail-biter the first time, a 15-10 Steelers triumph. Therefore, it’s a bit eye-opening that the largest lead of the game being 13.5 has an over of -130 and an under of -105.
The under would be the normal play for a 7-8 team meeting a 7-7-1 opponent. This line may have been influenced by the Steelers’ blowout loss to Kansas City.
The Steelers have won low and midrange scoring games at home.
The total of 41 is in the ballpark of many of their Heinz Field lines.
Over bettors for the Steelers often feel the need to tease it down a touchdown and combine it with another game for roughly even-money odds. Two of Pittsburgh’s last three home games produced 32 points, the other 39.
Cleveland is even more snakebit than Pittsburgh. COVID-19 ravaged the team, which lost 16-14 to the Las Vegas Raiders on a last-play field goal two weeks back. The Browns would have been in first place had the kick missed. Instead, they became last.
And it got worse.
At full strength, the Browns outplayed the Green Bay Packers on Christmas Day before losing 24-22. They were 20 yards from the distance needed for a game-winning field goal attempt before quarterback Baker Mayfield was intercepted.
Consider any Mayfield interception prop above 0.5.
Browns bettors would argue that the team is so good, it is bound to blow out an opponent before the year ends. Is this the week?
With all bets, watch the COVID-19 impact.
The New Orleans Saints were reduced to fourth-string quarterback Ian Book on Monday night. The Miami Dolphins sacked him eight times and prevailed 20-3. COVID-19 is heavily impacting marginal teams.
Monitor those reports before betting.