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Dangerous Game for Sliding Steelers With Patriots on the Horizon

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) on the sidelines after the Los Angeles Chargers scored in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Pittsburgh.

Ah, yes, the trap game. A road game against the worst team in the NFL with a home game against your biggest rival on the horizon the following week. It’s a potentially dangerous situation for Pittsburgh bettors as the Steelers open as double-digit favorites against the Raiders.

  • The Steelers are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games vs the Raiders.
  • Oakland is scoring 24.3 points per game in its last three games (season avg: 18.33).
  • Pittsburgh RB James Conner is out for Sunday.

Steelers vs Raiders Game Center

Steelers Have Hit a Skid

Coming into their Week 11 game in Jacksonville, things were going along just great for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who had shaken off a slow start to the season and had just dismantled the Panthers on Thursday Night Football.

Since that Carolina game, though, things have been fragile in Steelerland. They needed a late drive to get past a terrible Jacksonville team, then the next week against Denver they gave up multiple scoring opportunities with ill-timed turnovers, before finally watching Philip Rivers and the Chargers march back and snatch the win away from them on home field this past Sunday.

They’ve also gone from a solid spread bet, winning ATS for five straight weeks, to pushing in Jacksonville and losing ATS in their past two games.

Is Oakland as Bad as We Want Them to Be?

It’s trendy to pile on Jon Gruden and the disaster that is the proverbial downhill-rolling snowball of the Raiders season. However, when you look at the pushback they had against the Chiefs last week, winning ATS for the second time in three weeks, is it possible that they’re cleaning up their act a little?

I think they are. Not by leaps and bounds, but I think the Raiders are making some progress. They’ve scored 24.3 points per game in their last three games, which is six better than their season average.

Oakland also has the No. 14 passing defense, which isn’t earth-shattering but it’s much better than their league-worst rush defense. The good news for Oakland bettors is James Conner has been ruled out for Sunday’s game, which means we can expect even more passing from Big Ben than normal.

My Best Bet for This Game

I like OVER 51 points in this game that will be contested primarily in the air. More passing plays equals more plays overall. Pittsburgh is scoring 28.8 points per game and Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster will get a ton of looks without James Conner in the offense. Both of these receivers love rising to the challenge and should be very involved this week.

I also like taking Oakland +11. It will be really easy for Pittsburgh to overlook this game with a meeting with New England on the horizon. Add this in with the fragility we’ve seen from the Steelers recently and I think 11 points is too much.