Broncos as +7 Point Road Dogs are High Value NFL Pick vs. Steelers

Jason Lake

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 7:55 PM GMT

Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015 7:55 PM GMT

If the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to make the playoffs, winning Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos will be paramount. The football odds are with Pittsburgh.

Jason's 2015 record as of Dec. 16: 48-45-2 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 25-31 Total

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NFL Pick: Denver Broncos Against the Spread
Best Line Offered: +7 (-130) at 5Dimes

It's knuckle-up time for the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5 SU, 8-4-1 ATS). No, they won't be eliminated from the playoffs if they lose Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos (10-3 SU, 7-6 ATS), no matter what nonsense I said earlier this week. But if the Steelers want to grab one of those Wild Card spots in the AFC, now's the time to start grabbing.

The Broncos had better get grabby themselves. They still have a shot at the No. 1 seed in the conference, but after losing 15-12 to the Oakland Raiders (+6 away) last week, securing the AFC West title and a potential first-round bye is a more realistic goal. The marketplace sees this as a virtual toss-up with the Steelers laying 6.5 points at home on the NFL odds board; Pittsburgh has a very slight lean at 53 percent of bettors and 52 percent of the monies wagered.

 

QB+BR = QBR
Pittsburgh might have already clinched a playoff spot had Ben Roethlisberger been healthy all season. With Big Ben under center, the Steelers are 6-3 SU and ATS this year. He's the No. 3-ranked quarterback at Football Outsiders, according to passing DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), and No. 2 overall using the QBR metric at ESPN. Only Arizona's Carson Palmer has performed better in the QBR department.

Roethlisberger's performance is even more impressive considering the injuries surrounding him on the Pittsburgh offense. But things are humming along at the moment with WR Martavis Bryant (38 catches, six TDs) back on the field and RB DeAngelo Williams (4.7 yards per carry) doing such a good job filling in for Le'Veon Bell (4.9 yards per carry).

 

Defense and Chill
The onus will be on the Denver defense to stop the Steelers. There's only so much the offense can do with Brock Osweiler at quarterback; Peyton Manning started practicing again on Wednesday for the first time in over a month, but unless he's discovered a fountain of youth filled with deer-antler spray, or Osweiler turns into a pumpkin, Manning probably won't be getting his job back.

Of course, you can't do your December NFL Picks on the East Coast without looking at the weather, and the weather in this case looks pretty nice: just a five-percent chance of rain with temperatures in the high 30s. Not enough to impact our decision this time. It's a close one, but we're going with the road dogs. Pro-Football-Reference has Pittsburgh valued 3.7 points better than Denver on the Simple Rating System, which works out to about a 6-point advantage at home, so we're slightly more comfortable taking the Broncos at +7 with a premium on vigorish. May the prolate spheroid be with you.

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