Mountain State bettors who patted their bellies with the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-14 triumph over the Cleveland Browns on Monday night may want to stand pat for the season finale.
The Steelers and Baltimore Ravens resemble mirror images for Sunday’s matchup in Baltimore.
The 8-8 Ravens and 8-7-1 Steelers are uniquely bonded. As a team, they’re rooting for the near-impossible upset by the Jacksonville Jaguars over the Indianapolis Colts to keep their playoff hopes alive.
But it’s a big ask.
The Jags just got pounded 50-10 by the New England Patriots. If they can’t defeat the heavily favored Colts, Indianapolis will grab a playoff spot and the Steelers-Ravens will become moot.
In all likelihood, both teams will be eliminated from the playoffs after this game.
If the miracle does happen, Pittsburgh would have to win and then root for the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers to do anything but tie.
How long top players perform in this game depends on what’s happening in the Colts-Jags affair.
The betting line reflects the possibility that Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger won’t play the whole game. Because Pittsburgh beat Baltimore 20-19 earlier this year, this line should have been Baltimore -2.5 or -3, not -5.
One can see Roethlisberger playing three quarters and coming out if Indy is putting Jacksonville away.
Pittsburgh Steelers Odds At WV Sportsbooks
Najee Harris continues to flourish. He is the most reliable offensive performer for Pittsburgh—so reliable that he has not fumbled a single time this year.
Harris’ best game ever came against the Browns as he delivered 188 yards, including the game-winning 37-yard touchdown scamper to ice the game. Pittsburgh led wire-to-wire for one of the rare times this year.
Steeler defensive stalwart T.J. Watt is gliding to the NFL sacks title. After a huge performance in his last game, he’s now just one sack away from tying the record for one season held by Michael Strahan.
Watch for a Watt sack prop. He is already the runaway choice across West Virginia sportsbooks for defensive player of the year and should try quite hard to notch at least one here.
The kickers have to play the whole game. Chris Boswell of the Steelers is solid, and Justin Tucker of the Ravens is one of the best kickers in history.
Boswell delivered over 6.5 points against Cleveland. Tucker is usually a good bet from seven points on up. Although many coaches forego field goals for fourth-down gambles, Tucker is a cut above the league’s kickers, and the Ravens use his old-school style. They don’t mind piling up totals three at a time.
Pat Freiermuth has been a clutch receiver for the Steelers. He was underused Monday night with Pittsburgh’s excellent ground assault.
But he’s the team’s best third-down receiver, more sure-handed than Diontae Johnson, who has hurt the Steelers with drops in recent weeks. Johnson is nonetheless a threat to score.
Chase Claypool was thrown to nine times last week. But he’s not getting open deep.
Week 17 Money In The Bank
We know that many West Virginia sports bettors cashed in if they were on the right side of props mentioned here last week.
Pittsburgh did indeed reach 10 points first against Cleveland, worth +125 at DraftKings WV Sportsbook. The Steelers reached 15 points first, giving Mountain State gamblers +155.
Baker Mayfield did throw a pick, and so did Big Ben, both returning in the neighborhood of even money.
No team ever led by more than 13.5 points, and thus the under of -105 paid.
Harris took care of the DraftKings prop involving Cleveland running back Nick Chubb to surpass 174.5 yards.
What Might Have Been
There were high expectations for the Ravens. There were none for the Steelers. And now, here are both teams, locked in the abyss of missing the playoffs by one game. What they will regret:
The Steelers suffered a 10-10 tie against the Detroit Lions when Roethlisberger tested positive for COVID-19. He missed the game, in which weather played a role and the Steelers offense was awful. The tie counts as half a loss and has come back to hurt the Steelers.
It unfolded after Pittsburgh won four straight, hitting a high-water mark of 5-3.
Two astonishingly bold calls likely ended its season. The first came on a two-point conversion rather than seeking a tie against Pittsburgh. Watt forced the hurried pass that went just wide of receiver Marc Andrews.
The Ravens tried the same thing in losing to the Green Bay Packers.
All told, they lost three games by one point each. Their last four defeats have come by a combined five points. That’s how you reach the offseason rather than the postseason.