The Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots will open up the week on Thursday Night Football — the primetime matchup nightmares are made of. The Steelers enter this game managing injuries to starting quarterback Kenny Pickett, the offensive line, their linebackers, and starting running back Najee Harris.
Meanwhile, the Patriots (2-10) don’t sit with any more leverage, starting Bailey Zappe in place of an interception-prone Mac Jones, with his top two wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and DeVante Parker both questionable and their starting running back Rhamondre Stevenson out with an ankle injury.
How do you make the most unwatchable games watchable? We have to make the game mean something! If you’re looking to get in on the action, here are our favorite Steelers-Patriots player props for Week 14, with odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Mitch Trubisky OVER 180.5 passing yards (-115)
Putting stock in any of these assets to hit the over will be a risky venture, but with Mitch Trubisky’s passing yard total sitting at 180.5 yards, the over is looking rather appealing. The Patriots have allowed the opposing quarterback 184+ passing yards in nine of 12 games so far this season; meanwhile, Trubisky has notched 255 passing yards over his last two halves played subbing in for Pickett, combined.
While the point total is exceedingly low in this outing, set at just 30 points on DraftKings Sportsbook, the Patriots, much like the Steelers, have been a bend-don’t-break type of defense, ranking 17th in the league giving up just under 222 pass yards per game to opposing quarterbacks despite allowing the fifth-fewest passing touchdowns per game. The Patriots’ run defense has been a greater point of strength than their pass defense, and given that the Steelers could be without two starting offensive linemen, this game could pivot toward the pass if the run is deemed ineffective.
The Patriots’ 0.02 EPA per dropback allowed ranks fifth-highest among passing defenses this season, while their 54.6% defensive success rate against the pass ranks 11th-lowest, per NFL Next Gen Stats.
Allen Robinson OVER 11.5 receiving yards (-110)
Veteran wide receiver Allen Robinson has been fairly quiet this season, likely a victim of Kenny Pickett’s lack of targets to the middle of the field. Week 14 and onward, Mitch Trubisky might just prove to be the cure for that lack of usage. Throughout the entire second half that Trubisky played in Week 13 following Pickett’s ankle injury, he spread targets fairly evenly through the offense, with Robinson, Pat Freiermuth, Najee Harris and Diontae Johnson receiving three targets a piece. While none of them were overly efficient when targeted, it was an encouraging sign to see Robinson involved with the rest of the offensive weapons given his lack of involvement throughout most of the 2023 season.
You’ll remember, however, that Trubisky’s connection with Robinson goes far beyond their time here in Pittsburgh. That connection goes back to their time together with the Chicago Bears, where they played together for three years, from 2018 through the 2020 NFL seasons. In fact, Robinson’s 324 total targets from Trubisky throughout his career (regular, pre-, and postseasons) make him the most targeted receiver Trubisky has ever had. Robinson notched all 19 of his receiving yards on targets from Trubisky in Week 13; give them an entire game together, and he should exceed his 11.5-yard total with ease given their history together and a fine matchup against the Patriots.
Ezekiel Elliott OVER 15.5 receiving yards (-115)
Once again, it’s not a popular move to hit the over on the receiving yard total for a player catching passes in the New England Patriots offense... but here we are. Running back Ezekiel Elliott is officially set to get the start in Week 14 with Rhamondre Stevenson out, and to the benefit of his receiving yard total, this offense is down several key contributors. With rookies Demario Douglas and Kayson Boutte already ruled out and veterans DeVante Parker and JuJu Smith-Schuster having been limited all week with knee and ankle injuries, respectively, Elliott could very well be in for his biggest receiving line yet as a Patriot.
In Week 13, Zappe’s first game as the starting quarterback, Elliott saw five total targets — the second-most of anyone on the team — catching four of them for 40 receiving yards. Given the Steelers’ injuries at inside linebacker, the middle of the field has been a huge liability, which could give Elliott some room to generate some yards after the catch if they get him involved as a receiver.