[MNF] Pittsburgh at Indianapolis
Line: Colts -2.5
Since taking over following Week 9, Jeff Saturday and his Colts have covered easily in the first two games as head coach. Can the Colts do it again hosting a Monday night game? Moreover, can they transition from an underdog with nothing expected of them and now lay points and cover as a favorite?
Short Answer: We think this is a stretch, so that's the reason why we're taking Pittsburgh plus the points. But to be safe, we're also teasing the underdog since a low-scoring game is expected. So, getting the added teaser points gives the bet even more weight.
Let's start with the Colts, who remain one of the worst offenses in the league. Credit Indy for two gutsy games in a row. However, we're still doubting that QB Matt Ryan has any long-term future with the Colts. Keep in mind that the immobile oyster-legged Ryan did play well against the Raiders and Eagles in recent weeks, but the Colts continue allowing the most sacks in the NFL. Now, they face a defense that's certainly capable of applying pressure, thanks to last year's Defensive Player of the Year, T.J. Watt being back in the lineup. The Steelers also force an above-average number of interceptions (12). Pittsburgh is good enough on the D-side of the ball to keep them close in most games, and Indy's weak offense won't pose nearly the same threats the Steelers have seen in most of their games this season.
Also note Pittsburgh's brutally tough schedule, one of the NFL's toughest, to date. Steelers' opponents are a combined 60-42 this season--including Cincinnatti (twice), New England, NY Jets, Buffalo, Tampa Bay, Miami, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. Aside from New Orleans, the Colts might be the softest team on their schedule.
Both teams have played several close games lately: Each of Indy's past four games were one-possession contests. For the full season, 8 of their 11 games were decided by one score, including two in overtime. Win or lose, Indy games tend to be close. The Steelers have similar results, as 3 of their past 5 games have been one-possession contests, in addition to 6 of their 10 games overall.
Pittsburgh's lackluster offense and inexperienced QB with Kenny Pickett is a concern, but this will be his seventh NFL start, and he's thrown an above-average number of passes, with mixed results. The Steelers have a slightly better YPC average than the Colts when running the ball, and in their last three games Steelers ran ball for 154 YPG (well above average), so that's another factor in support of the Steelers.
We will make two wagers, both on Pittsburgh. We're taking the Steelers +1.5 in the first half. We are also teasing on the Wong strategy, from +2.5 up to +8.5 (combined with Baltimore -1.5 next Sunday vs. Denver).
Pittsburgh Steelers (First Half) +1.5 (-125)
TEASER: Pittsburgh +8.5 / Baltimore -1.5 (-120) -- Risking $240 to win $200