The song lyrics go What a Difference a Day Makes, while in the National Football League the right words may be What a Difference a Week Makes.
The 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers are as reliable as guessing which way a feather will blow in a swirling wind. They opened the season against the powerful Buffalo Bills on the road, and as a touchdown underdog overcame a 10-0 halftime deficit to pin the Bills with their only loss of the season, 23-16. Favored at home over the Las Vegas Raiders in second week action, they dropped a 26-17 decision before losing a second straight home game the following Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, 24-10.
By the time they lost a third straight game, this one on the road against the Green Bay Packers, most football pundits were all pretty well convinced that Pittsburgh was no good. Then, as an underdog at home last Sunday against the Denver Broncos, the Steelers downed the 3-1 Broncos at Heinz Field. This week, they go from a home dog to a bet-on home favorite.
Pittsburgh opened as a 4½ point favorite over a Seattle team that limps into town on the heels of a home loss to the Los Angeles Rams in their last game and without their quarterback. Seattle has lost three of four games, and the most significant loss in last week’s setback to the Rams was the injury that has landed quarterback Russell Wilson on the injured reserve list.
Wilson will miss his first professional contest this week, it comes after he started 149 games with the Seahawks to open his sure-to-be Hall of Fame career. Without Wilson, and a rare losing record after five games for the Seahawks, it is little wonder they are underdogs to the Steelers tonight.
Two teams that are as common in the NFL playoffs as Santa Claus is on Christmas are struggling this year. Neither has a winning record, and both have been hurt by injuries.
Still, the tougher-than-nails Steelers signal caller, Ben Roethlisberger, is set to start tonight and that seems to give Pittsburgh the advantage, which is shown both in the generous five point spread and public backing of more than 65%.
But, before you join that majority, know this, Pittsburgh has lost straight-up the last five times they have been favored on the point spread. That includes a pair of games this year and defeats in their final three favorite roles in 2020.
What does that tell us?
The Steelers play better when they are challenged and come up flat when they are boosted by a favorite role. Tonight, they are not only favored by an expanding point spread, but they have the security of knowing that Seattle will be playing their first game in ten years without Wilson behind center.
It is for those reasons that the majority are backing Pittsburgh, and the same reasons why I think the Seahawks are the play tonight. Wilson’s backup, Geno Smith, is a veteran who is fully capable of leading an inspired Seattle team looking to even their season won/loss record at the expense of the favored Steelers.
If a favorite role has been tough for the Steelers to beat, how do you think they will do when they are both favored and facing a backup quarterback?
Qoxhi Picks: Seattle Seahawks (+5) over Pittsburgh Steelers