Monday Night Football Pick: Betting the Steelers-Titans Total

Jason Lake

Friday, November 14, 2014 9:07 PM UTC

Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 9:07 PM UTC

Does “Big” Ben Roethlisberger have another six TD passes in him? That might be what it takes for the OVER to beat the Week 11 NFL odds when the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Tennessee Titans Monday night.

Jason’s record after Week 10: 28-39 ATS, 11-16-1 Totals

Profit: minus-37.63 units

Consistency, in the NFL? Good luck with that. Betting on football is always going to be more volatile than other sports; you’ve got a 16-game regular season, a rigidly anti-competitive salary structure, and the constant threat of injury to the players. You can still apply basic handicapping principles to eke out a small profit margin with your NFL picks, but that’s in the long run, and it’s a very, very long run indeed.

Basic handicapping principles would tell you to bet the UNDER in our next very special episode of Monday Night Football (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). The Week 11 NFL odds board has cranked out a total of 46.5 points for the matchup in Nashville between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans. We can list off several reasons why the UNDER makes sense, and we shall. But will it be reason enough not to auto-bet the OVER?

Don’t Bring Me Down, Roos
Let’s start with the obvious: The Titans have the UNDER at 6-3 this year, and their offense is just awful. Football Outsiders has it ranked No. 23 overall (No. 21 offense, No. 18 defense) in efficiency, and that’s for the entire season through Week 10. Things are even worse now that third-string QB Zach Mettenberger is at the controls; as we mentioned in our NFL pick against the spread, Mettenberger is producing at about the same level Geno Smith did for the New York Jets.

If only Mettenberger (and Smith, for that matter) had a little more talent surrounding him. The Titans went into the 2014 season with a tailback combo of Jets cast-off Shonn Greene and rookie Bishop Sankey. Greene has provided 4.1 yards per carry, matching his career average, but it’s Sankey (3.9 yards per carry) getting most of the touches in this rebuilding year. As he should. Sankey led the Pac-12 in rushing last year with the Washington Huskies, but he’s not very powerful for a power runner, and he needs to develop as a blocker.

Which brings us to what’s really bugging the Titans and head coach Ken Whisenhunt these days. Pass protection has been a major issue: Tennessee is No. 28 in that department with an adjusted sack rate of 8.5 percent, and losing three-time All-Pro LT Michael Roos (knee) in Week 4 did the Titans no favors. Improvements to the offensive line, and the addition of Sankey, were supposed to give Jake Locker the support he needed to break through this year. Instead, he’ll probably end up holding a clipboard for some other team in 2015.

Grand Cold Opry
If that hasn’t convinced you to bet the UNDER, how about some bad weather? It’s supposed to rain Sunday in Nashville, and there’s a 40 percent chance of snow on Monday. The forecast calls for clear skies by kick-off, but it’s still expected to be a bit gusty out there. Don’t sleep on how nasty the weather can get in Tennessee; the UNDER is 6-1-1 in the last eight November home games for the Titans, and 23-15-1 since the franchise moved from Houston.

We could also tell you that the Steelers (OVER 6-4) have gone UNDER in four of their five road games this season – Ben Roethlisberger’s touchdown parade happened at home. He’s only got five TDs total in five away games, and that’s against some pretty bad teams, like the Jets and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both those games went UNDER 47. We’re going to bet that the same thing happens Monday night. But as always, feel free to pound the OVER – it was a unanimous choice in early betting, according to our consensus reports.

Free NFL Pick: Bet one unit on UNDER 47 at The Greek

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