Pregame: Hall of Fame QB Shootout

4:25pm ET @ Mercedes-Benz SuperDome; New Orleans, Louisiana .

Projected Score: Steelers: 34   / Saints: 38

Game Lines: Steelers: (+6.5) O/U: 53.0 

 

TV Broadcast:

Begins on CBS at 4:25, broadcast locally on WPGH-TV, with Jim Nantz and Tony Romo as commentators and Tracy Wolfson the sideline reporter.

Radio Broadcast:

Steelers Radio Network- Game coverage begins at 4 p.m. ET. Calling the game will be Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play), Tunch Ilkin (color analyst) and Craig Wolfley (sideline). All fans in the Pittsburgh area can listen locally on WDVE 102.5 FM & WBGG 970 AM.

Injury Report:

  • RB James Conner (Ankle) – Out
  • WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (Groin) – Questionable

What to Watch:

1.  Steelers Defense  
  • The Steelers defense has been suspect for much of this season but last week they rose to the occasion and stoned Tom Brady by allowing only 10 points. While holding Brady to 10 points is impressive they have yet to beat an offensive monster like the Saints. In week 2 the Steelers squared off against the Chiefs who are of the same offensive prowess, the defense was unable to make plays and gave up a total of 42 points. Today, the team must be better, they must all be on the same page and disciplined on defense which has been a rare occurrence this year. The biggest match up to watch is CB Joe Haden vs WR Michael Thomas.
  2. Jaylen Samuels  
  • Last week Samuels did his best James Conner and Le’Veon Bell impersonation by running for 142 yards on 19 carries. The Steelers have not lost this season when they have a 100 yard rusher. It will be very important to run the ball early and often to control the time of possession. Jaylen Samuels success will help keep Brees and company off the field while also keeping the Steelers defense rested.
  3.  Ben Roethlisberger  
  • Source inside the Steelers claims Big Ben and Randy Fictner are “out for blood” after Cam Jordan’s comments this past week about Ben not being a first ballot Hall of Famer. Ben will need to have a huge game and make smart decisions. Throwing interceptions is not something the team can afford in a game this important. Look for a big day from JuJu who will likely be on the opposite end of the field from CB Marshon Lattimore, last years Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Betting Advice

Pittsburgh comes into this matchup 4th in the NFL with 405.8 total ypg according to NFL.com. They’re also 3rdin the NFL with 311.9 passing ypg and 5th overall in scoring at 27.4 ppg. The Saints are 2nd in the league in scoring at 32.8 ppg. New Orleans is 7th in total yards at 385.9 total ypg, 11th in passing at 258.5 ypg, and 8th in rushing at 127.4 ypg. Surprisingly, these defense have also turned it on over the course of the year as Pittsburgh is 6th against the run (96.9 ypg) and the Saints are the best against the run at (79.1 ypg). The Saints are #7 in points allowed at 20.9 ppg and the Steelers are 15th at 22.6 ppg. Both teams are susceptible against the pass and that could be trouble as the Steelers and the Saints can throw the ball up and down the field with very capable QB’s and talented wide receivers. After watching both teams all year long, it’s hard to go against the Saints at home where they are 4-2 ATS this year and 17-6 SU over the last few seasons. Furthermore, the Saints are 9-4 ATS and 11-2 SU when the total is at least 49.5 points or more, 7-2 ATS and 8-1 SU when playing on 6 days or less, 6-2 ATS and 7-1 SU in dome games this year, 9-2 SU and 8-3 ATS when playing on turf this year, 7-4 SU in their last 11 December games, 8-1 ATS after winning at least two games in a row, 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games against teams with a winning record, and 10-2 ATS in their last 12 overall games. The Steelers are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 overall games, 0-2 ATS when an underdog of 3.5 to 9.5 points, 3-3 ATS in 6 road games this year, 5-7 ATS in their last 12 December games, and 4-5 ATS in the last 4 weeks of the regular season. I believe the Saints will control the game with the best duo of running backs in the league – Kamara and Ingram. Although Pittsburgh has fared well overall this year against the run, both of these backs are also very dangerous out of the backfield. Kamara is a weapon that I don’t see Pittsburgh being able to slow down. Conversely, whether James Conner plays or not against the Saints, I don’t see Pittsburgh having much success on the ground. The only way the Steelers will be able to contend for the victory is by throwing the ball a lot. Don’t be surprised if Big Ben ends up with at least 45 pass attempts this game. The Saints moneyline of -260 doesn’t offer any value and the O/U of 53.5 total points is a hard one to predict considering the Steelers’ recent road woes at Oakland and Denver. In fact, over their last 3 road games, the Steelers have averaged just under 20 ppg. Saints are the clear favorite here but do not under estimate a desperate Steelers team coming off of their biggest win of the season. Take the Steelers +6.5 and the Over of 53.0 in this one.

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