Picking between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Detroit Lions on Sunday night could simply come down to Ben Roethlisberger‘s record in primetime games compared to that of quarterback counterpart Matthew Stafford.
The Steelers are 3-point road favorites against the Lions with a 46-point total for the Week 8 Sunday Night Football matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
On top of having never lost a game at Ford Field, the Steelers are 6-1 straight-up and 5-1-1 against the spread in their last seven road games as a favorite of 3.0 or fewer points. Pittsburgh is also 4-0 SU in its last four primetime games that Roethlisberger started.
The Lions are 3-13 SU in their last 16 games at night. However, they are coming off a bye and are 6-2 both SU and ATS in their last eight games after a bye week.
The Steelers, which are 5-2 SU and 4-3 ATS, have gotten away with having an oversized chunk of their offense come from RB Le'Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown. With Brown likely to be covered by CB Darius Slay most of the night, Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offensive brain trust might need to look elsewhere.
With WR Martavius Bryant (inactive) scratched, rookie JuJu Schuster-Smith will get plenty of looks as Pittsburgh tries to revive its deep passing game. Roethlisberger will also have to clean up some turnover issues against a Lions defense that is tied for third in the NFL with nine interceptions.
Up front, Pittsburgh has allowed just 10 sacks and the line’s consistent push in the rushing phase has helped Bell find daylight. While the first point of reference with the Lions defense is likely the embarrassing 52 points they allowed two weeks ago against the New Orleans Saints, they are in the top 10 of the league in yards-per-rush.
For the Lions, which are 3-3 both SU and ATS, priorities 1A and 1B for their offense during their week off were presumably first-half production (only five of their 14 offensive touchdowns are before halftime) and pass protection. The possibility of leading receiver Golden Tate (shoulder) being unable to play would definitely hurt their prospects of a fast start, but Stafford does thrive at distributing the ball among several targets.
The issue for Detroit in the passing phase is giving Stafford time to set up. Detroit allowed 17 sacks in its three games immediately prior to the bye, and now it has to stymie a Steelers pass rush that is tied for the second-most sacks with 24.
The Steelers defense is giving up 4.7 yards per carry, so this could be a game where Lions RB Ameer Abdullah sees bigger holes than he’s been accustomed to this season.
The total has gone under in 15 of the Steelers’ last 20 games after a win. The total has gone over in seven of the Lions’ last eight home games in October according to the OddsShark NFL Database.
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