The Pittsburgh Steelers look to extend their winning streak to two in a row in Thursday Night Football at the expense of the Minnesota Vikings, who are coming off a deflating loss. Books, however, aren’t on board with Ben Roethlisberger and Company in this inter-conference showdown. Instead, the Vikings emerge as the 3.5-point home favorites across online sports betting platforms.
Does the market have it right? Will the Vikings bounce back into the win column as the NFL odds suggest? Or should bettors fade Minnesota and shade Pittsburgh to pull off the upset?
Find out as we preview this intriguing Thursday night showdown between two playoff hopefuls from opposing conferences.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Thursday, December 09, 2021 – 08:20 PM EST at U.S. Bank Stadium
Steelers Upset Ravens
The Pittsburgh Steelers defied the odds and served up an upset over the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field this past Sunday. The Steelers closed as the 4-point home underdogs with multiple top-rated sportsbooks, only to emerge with a 20-19 win.
In keeping with many previous battles between these two fierce division rivals, the Week 13 contest lived up to its billing. It was gritty, tough, ugly at times, and a bitter fight to the end. The big story of the day was the Steelers’ defense, which rose to the occasion and thwarted the Ravens on their final plays to lift the Steelers to the improbable victory.
The Steelers offense had another up and down outing, but Big Ben and the O-line did just enough to rally from behind and take the 20-13 lead. Roethlisberger led a touchdown drive in the final quarter and converted on a two-point conversion to give the Steelers the seven-point lead. However, there was still enough time for the Ravens to make things interesting in the final minute.
Lamar Jackson drove the Ravens downfield to score a touchdown and bring Baltimore to within a point with 12 seconds on the clock. Instead of going for the point to tie the game, though, John Harbaugh decided to go for the win with a two-point conversion. But it didn’t work as Marc Andrews failed to catch Jackson’s pass as tripped of his fingertips.
Vikings Hand Lions First Win
The Minnesota Vikings have earned the ignominious honor of becoming the first team to lose to the hapless Detroit Lions this season. The Lions went into Week 13 with a 0-10-1 record and emerged with a 1-10-1 record.
The Vikings closed as touchdown favorites, but they failed to come through on the market’s lofty expectations in a narrow 29-27 loss at Ford Field. It marked a new low for Mike Zimmer and the Vikings, extending their topsy turvy 2021 campaign as they slipped to a 5-7-0 record on the season.
The loss came on the final play as Jared Goff threw an 11-yard passing touchdown to Amon-Ra St. Brown in the final seconds to lift the Lions to their first win of the season. Ironically, the ending of the game bore some resemblance to their first meeting this season when Greg Joseph scored a last-gasp field goal to lift Minnesota to the 19-17 victory.
The Vikings started brightly and took the 6-0 lead in the first quarter, but then they fell quickly behind in the second quarter as the Lions put up 20 points unanswered. In the second half, the Vikings played better and rallied to take the 27-23 lead. However, the defense failed to derail the Lions on their final drive, allowing Goff to lead a 14-play drive for 75 yards and a game-winning touchdown.
NFL Predictions and Picks
On paper, the Vikings are a talented team, one for which bookmakers had decent expectations for when the season started. Thirteen weeks into the season, and it’s safe to say that things haven’t gone to plan. Minnesota’s continuous struggles, inconsistency, and inability to win games are a bit perplexing, although it’s not something that is exclusive to 2021.
Over the last two seasons, this has been the case for the Vikings, which makes them an unpredictable bet on any given Sunday for NFL picks.
Things were looking up for Mike Zimmer’s crew briefly until they lost to the Lions. In losing to Detroit, Minnesota’s playoff hopes suffered a major setback. Now, it would be a minor miracle if they did make the postseason.
Suppose home advantage is behind Minnesota’s favoritism for this Thursday Night showdown, along with the fact that the Steelers are comparably inconsistent in 2021. But laying 3.5-points with the Vikings is asking for too much, surely.
Pittsburgh has had its fair share of trials and tribulations this season, but the win over the Ravens couldn’t have been timed any better. It lifts Pittsburgh to a 6-5-1 record and it keeps the Stealers’ playoff hopes alive, not to mention it’s a nice boost on a short week with a quick turnaround.
The Steelers are currently 3.5-point underdogs, but based on last Sunday’s upset over the Ravens, it’s hard to see that number hanging around for too long. So, grab the Steelers at 3.5 before the value is lost in point-spread betting markets.
NFL Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers +3.5 (-110) at Bet365