NFL 2018 Season - Week 14
 

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Roadkill
by Dennis Ranahan

Have you ever seen a squirrel trying to dodge traffic?

It is not a pleasant site. Often, the little critter will avoid one car, get clipped by another and then crushed by another oncoming vehicle. Would you want to bet on a squirrel making it across a busy freeway?

Even after avoiding some cars, you know the chances of the little guy avoiding all the vehicles is somewhere between slim and none.

Consider the Pittsburgh Steelers as that squirrel running loose on the freeway. Last Sunday, they were dominated by the Jacksonville Jaguars for nearly 58 minutes of the game clock, then somehow pulled out a highly improbable win on the road. They scored two touchdowns in the closing minutes after cutting into a 16-0 deficit with a 78-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter.

When the dust cleared at Jacksonville’s TIAA Bank Field last Sunday, the Jaguars fans were left stunned by another defeat, 20-16, their seventh loss in ten games. What was supposed to be a big year for Doug Marrone’s team has gone totally south. They are still considered to have one of the best defenses in the league, but their quarterback, Blake Bortles, is playing so poorly he might just as soon show up on game days wearing his opponents jersey.

Still, this Jacksonville squad struggling through the worst of times, had the Steelers on the ropes. Mike Tomlin’s team avoided a loss in last week’s road test and remain away from home this week in an attempt to extend their winning streak to seven games. They likely will show up in the Mile High City looking like an ill-fated squirrel trying to dodge one more potential disaster.

The Denver Broncos will provide the competition tomorrow. The Broncos are coming off a road win in Los Angeles where they snapped the Chargers six game winning streak last Sunday. Now, the situation points to them ending Pittsburgh’s winning run.

This game is a lot more likely spot for the Broncos to win than even their victory last Sunday on the west coast. In that game, they were playing a Chargers team that was still in dire need of a win in their attempt to catch the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West. This week, the Broncos are at home, where they have already beaten the Seattle Seahawks and played competitively against the Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams, and meeting a Steelers squad sitting comfortably ahead in their division race.

Last week, the public wagered on the Steelers even though the point spread, which had opened with Jacksonville a 6 point underdog, was driven down by wise guy money all the way to 4 points before kickoff. This week, the public is back on the Steelers, seemingly betting on the squirrel in this race against roadkill, and once again the point spread is not reacting to the public money. The Steelers opened as a 3½ point favorite and the line has been sliced a half-point.

Which means this, you can bet on that squirrel to make it across the road, or follow the smart money expecting that little guy to get smashed.

Qoxhi Picks: Denver Broncos (+3) over Pittsburgh Steelers