The Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) are one the hottest teams against the spread (4-0-2) following an improbable win over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 6. The Steelers travel to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs (1-5) in Week 7, and look to improve to 5-2 straight up on the season.
Pittsburgh is riding a two-game win streak after defeating the San Diego Chargers 24-20 in Week 5, and upsetting the Cardinals 25-13 in Week 6. The Steelers are now 2-1 without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger is listed as questionable heading into this week's matchup with Kansas City, and although it's probably doubtful he'll play, it appears head coach Mike Tomlin and the coaching staff will leave the light on for him until a final decision needs to be made. The Pro Bowl quarterback was a limited participant in 11-on-11 drills throughout the week, while backup Landry Jones took the majority of the first team reps. Given Roethlisberger's status, and Michael Vick's hamstring injury, it now appears Jones will be making his first career start this Sunday.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, are having a rough start to the 2015 season. Kansas City is currently on a five-game skid, and lost its best player in running back Jamal Charles to an ACL tear in Week 5, which will sideline him for the remainder of the year.
Week 6 Recap
The Steelers were four-point underdogs at home against the Cardinals last week, and won the game by 12 points. Pittsburgh is 4-0-1 against the spread in its last five games.
The Steelers have an excellent opportunity to improve to 5-2 overall this week, and will probably need to win in order to keep pace with the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North division. Pittsburgh's defense ranks fifth in points allowed (18.0 PPG), seventh against the run (93.3 YPG), and seventh in sacks (17.0).
The Chiefs lost Jamal Charles for the season when he tore his ACL against the Chicago Bears in Week 5. Kansas City ranks 22nd in offense (21.2 PPG) and losing Charles is a big blow.
My season record straight up: 3-2
Steelers +120 ($10.00 wins $12.00)
Chiefs -140 ($10.00 wins $7.14)
On paper, the Chiefs are a talented team, but they haven't played like one this season. The problems starts with quarterback Alex Smith and the offensive line. Smith ranks 17th in yards per attempt (7.49), 18th in quarterback rating (88.8), and 22nd in completion percentage (62.4). He's also been sacked a whopping 23 times. Only Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick have been sacked more than Smith in 2015.
This is a favorable matchup for the Steelers stingy defense, which ranks fifth in points allowed per game (18.0) and seventh in total sacks (17.0). Look for Pittsburgh's corners to press the Chiefs wide receivers, and dare Smith to beat them deep. The Steelers front seven should be able to dominate and generate a lot of pressure against Kansas City's shaky offensive line.
The most important numbers to look at here, however, are the records. The Steelers are 4-2 straight up, while the Chiefs are 1-5, and will be without their best offensive player. Sure, Roethlisberger likely won't play, but it hasn't seemed to matter who's playing quarterback for Pittsburgh. Michael Vick staged a comeback win over the Chargers in Week 5, and Landry Jones threw two second-half touchdown passes to beat the Cardinals in Week 6.
The Play: Steelers +120
- Pittsburgh is 4-1 straight up in its last five games
- Kansas City is 0-5 straight up in its last five games
My season record against the spread: 3-0-2
Steelers +3 (-115) ($10.00 wins $8.07)
Chiefs -3 (-105) ($10.00 wins $9.52)
The Steelers are three-point underdogs with Landry Jones likely making his first career start at Arrowhead Stadium. Jones led the team to victory against the Cardinals last week, completing 8/12 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns after replacing injured Michael Vick early in the third quarter.
After struggling to move the ball in the first half against Arizona, the Pittsburgh offense opened things up in the second half with Jones under center. This is Jones' third season with the team, and he has a much better understanding of the playbook than Vick. Having Jones at quarterback should allow Pittsburgh to do a better job of utilizing its plethora of weapons, take some pressure off Le'Veon Bell, and create more opportunities for Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant to stretch the field.
The Chiefs defense ranks 25th in points allowed per game (26.5). The once stout unit has struggled this season, with prolific pass rusher Tamba Hali struggling to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks. He has just 1.0 sack through six games.
The Play: Steelers +3
- Kansas City is 0-5 against the spread in its last five games
- Pittsburgh is 4-0-1 against the spread in its last five games
43.5 (-110) ($10.00 wins $9.09)
With both Ben Roethlisberger and Jamal Charles missing in action this week, it's safe to say both offenses will have a harder time moving the ball and scoring points.
The Steelers have averaged 23.0 points per game without Roethlisberger, while the Chiefs have averaged 17.0 points per game without Charles. It's never pretty when these teams meet. Look for another defensive battle in this one.
The Play: Under 43.5
- The total has gone under in five of Pittsburgh's last six games
36-42 total points scored +350 ($10.00 wins $35.00)
The Long Shot
First scoring play Steelers TD run +850 ($10.00 wins $85.00)
Steelers 24, Chiefs 10