Our play of the week in Week 11 between the Minnesota Vikings (+3) versus the Chicago Bears (-3) had just about everything go wrong that could have. And before I turn this article into Joe Nicely’s “Tuesday Morning Tilt,” I will try to regroup myself to give an accurate recap into Sunday night’s proceedings.
Where do we even start? For a team that was coming off of a bye and desperately needed a win, the Minnesota Vikings looked like the “Walking Dead” in Chicago. Kirk Cousins made two horrendous mistakes — including a pick-six that altered the game in the fourth quarter — Dalvin Cook had nine carries for 12 yards — coughing up the ball deep in Chicago’s territory in the first quarter — and the Vikings defense was terrible, failing to bring down Mitchell Trubisky time after time. I mean seriously, I have seen better takedowns of an actual bear from Khabib Nurmagomedov as a nine-year-old than I saw on Sunday night against Trubisky.
And despite all these glaring mistakes, we still had a chance with 48 seconds left to escape the night with a push if the Vikings could have converted a two-point conversion. Sadly, luck was not on our side when Cousins pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage, and we found ourselves on the short end of the stick. It is important to remember that sports betting is a marathon and not a sprint. The winning side is technically the “right side,” but I believe we had a long-term profitable play that happened to go against us. Nothing can be done about that, and it is back to the drawing board for Week 12.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.0) versus the Denver Broncos (+3.0) O/U 47.0
The Pittsburgh Steelers versus Denver Broncos is the last game to go off during the afternoon slate on Sunday, which does hold some significant value when breaking down this battle. The Steelers are one of the public’s favorite teams to wager on, and casinos could find themselves taking in Pittsburgh money in a multitude of different scenarios.
One of the situations is if the public has a strong early morning against the house. Bettors will be looking for another game to move their newly found winnings onto, and Pittsburgh is a familiar name that has won them money in the past. The problem this presents for the house is if they are losing early, they won’t be able to be as aggressive as they would like. The number would most likely have to start moving back towards its opening of +3.5 or +4, allowing sharp bettors to help mitigate their action slightly.
On the flip side of things, sports book will probably let that number stay at +3 and draw a line in the sand if they have a successful morning. Their early winnings would give them an opportunity to be ultra-aggressive and try to let the public chase their cash back on a number that the house believes is in their favor.
Both of these circumstances make it tough to advocate placing a wager on the spread unless you wanted to back the Steelers and grab -3. If you liked Denver but haven’t put in a bet yet, you have already missed the key numbers. However, there should be no scenario where the line ever moves to +2.5, and it is one of those spots where you are better off waiting till right before the game and seeing if you could snatch a +3.5.
So that brings us to the over/under of 47 points, which I think is a unique way to back the underdog in this contest without taking on the risk of opposing Pittsburgh. When you look at how both teams want to play, it provides an interesting stylistic matchup. Pittsburgh wants to attack you through the air, and Denver wants to control the clock on the ground. But interestingly enough, both teams strength on offense is what the defensive units do the best at shutting down. Here is a slight breakdown of both sides efficiency metrics:
Pittsburgh – 6th in offensive efficiency passing
Denver – 4th in defensive efficiency against the pass
Denver – 3rd in offensive rushing efficiency
Pittsburgh – 13th in defensive efficiency against the rush
The ability for the Broncos to control the clock when they have the ball will be vital on Sunday. They rank 20th in passing efficiency and will need to keep Pittsburgh’s offense off the field if they want to have a realistic chance of competing. And while the Steelers aren’t world-class in defending the run, they are competent enough that they aren’t going to get exploited with big run after big run.
I think the over/under of 47 will keep decreasing as the week goes on because your average bettors are more concerned about laying the favorite in a matchup like this then they are about investing in the total, this will open up the capacity for sharp money to drive the number down by the time the game rolls around. I don’t necessarily think Denver is going to win and believe this is a much better way of wagering on Sunday’s showdown.