The Pittsburgh Steelers are undefeated this year. The only team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins to win all their regular season games was the 2007 New England Patriots. That year, in a mid-November game, they met the Buffalo Bills as a 16 point favorite and won the game, 56-10.
Last week, the Pittsburgh Steelers won their ninth consecutive game while favored on the point spread by a touchdown and downing the Cincinnati Bengals, 36-10.
The Steelers win last week was in a spot where many gave the visiting Bengals a real chance. In fact, only a slight majority of the bettors backed the undefeated Steelers, and a lot of money came in on the Bengals which reduced the opening point spread of Pittsburgh by 9½ points to the Steelers by 6½ points for their Heinz Field battle against an AFC North Division opponent.
Why were so many backing the struggling Bengals over the high flying Steelers? Because the Bengals have Joe Burrow exciting the football world from behind center and prior to their bye week, the Bengals had picked up their second win of the season while beating the Tennessee Titans, 31-20.
Meanwhile, while the Bengals were enjoying their bye week, the Steelers had their hands full against a Dallas Cowboys team that has looked a lot more like the clowns at a rodeo than the competitors. The Cowboys had not beaten a point spread through the first eight weeks, then were given two touchdowns on the spread on their home field when the Steelers came calling.
No game this season had a greater imbalance of wagering than did Pittsburgh over Dallas a couple weeks ago giving two touchdowns. Then they played the game, and Pittsburgh needed a late comeback and final defensive play to eke out a 24-19 win.
Those results had a lot of the betting world, wise guys included, thinking that the Steelers trend was going down and the Bengals were in a great spot to be competitive in Pittsburgh.
Why were they wrong?
Because the Bengals victory over Tennessee heading into their bye week gave Cincinnati two weeks to celebrate their success, and few things are worse for the prospects of an underdog than thinking they are in a good position for an upset.
At the same time, the Steelers were embarrassed at how poorly they played in Dallas while handing the Cowboys their first point spread win of the season. In other words, the Bengals came into Heinz Field confident and the Steelers were on alert.
Talent dictated the day because it was actually the more motivated team.
Okay, what’s next?
This week, Pittsburgh travels to Jacksonville to meet a Jaguars team that hasn’t won a game since opening day. This time the Steelers are coming off a romp win, and once again confident that their talent is enough to carry the day. Hence, the bookmakers install Pittsburgh as a ten point favorite and nearly 60% of the bettors figure laying the points with the road team is a good idea.
But, if we know the Bengals lost last week as much because they were overconfident coming off a win with two weeks to celebrate, and the Steelers are confident this week because they rebounded from their close game in Dallas with a home romp win, well you might see where I’m going with this.
As for the 2007 New England Patriots, their point spread record after beating Buffalo 56-10 in mid-November was 1 win and eight losses. Their only straight-up loss in that run was their Super Bowl setback to the double-digit underdog New York Giants.
What we have here, 13 years later, is a similar setup for the Steelers.
They have reached the extreme on their chart with straight-up wins coupled with point spread triumphs. How many more games the Steelers will win is open for debate, but how many point spread victories they collect is in the hands of the guys that know more than anyone in this game … the people setting the spreads.
Qoxhi Picks: Jacksonville Jaguars (+10) over Pittsburgh Steelers