NFL Picks: Steelers vs. Vikings in Week 4

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 6:37 PM UTC

Wednesday, Sep. 25, 2013 6:37 PM UTC

As of the beginning of the week, almost 84,000 seats have been sold for this matchup in London. Join us as we preview the football betting odds and see where the value lies in jolly old England.

"London calling to the faraway towns, now war is declared and battle come down.
London calling to the underworld, come out of the cupboard you boys and girls."

Lyrics from the song “London Calling” by The Clash

Despite having the star power of Adrian Peterson and Ben Roethlisberger involved in this match, the game might be harder to sellout completely with the two teams a combined 0-6 for the season so far.

Pittsburgh Prospects Bleak

Maybe it’s the irony of sports, but it is not lost on this NFL handicapper that the Steelers' worst start in 13 years also happens to be the same time the Pirates are ending their record of futility and are heading to the baseball playoffs. Since 1990, three of 115 teams which started the season 0-3 have made it to the postseason.

Pittsburgh’s problems are wide spread: the offensive line is a sieve, the defense is old and has yet to force a turnover and the only way the Steelers move the ball on the offensive is when Roethlisberger resorts to a sandlot-style in heaving the pigskin around, making him vulnerable to turnovers, like last Sunday's game against the Bears.

Minnesota Has 10,000 lakes to Hide in After 0-3 Start

The Vikings went from 3-13 to 10-6 last year, making the playoffs with a rather obviously flawed squad. While expectations were still high in the Twin Cities, NFL betting odds makers were not impressed and most sportsbooks had Minnesota at 8-8 for win totals before the season.

The Vikings are ranked 29th in total defense, 28th against the forward pass and 30th in points allowed at 32 a game. In other words, Minnesota stinks on defense as Cleveland third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer had 321 passing against the Vikes, taking is career total to 937 yards. (That is 34.2% in one game)

The offensive line for a second straight week was pushed around the A.P. was held to 3.5 yards a carry.

NFL Odds and Matchup Numbers

In the NFL odds, this confrontation opened as a 'Pick'em' at Wembley Stadium and roughly half the sportsbooks I checked had moved it to the Steelers at -1, in spite of Pittsburgh being 0-6 ATS after three consecutive games with a turnover margin of -1 or worse.

The total of 42 has held steady, which in an indictment of both offenses against defenses which have given up points.


What does Pittsburgh do to win?

Reports have Coach Mike Tomlin making changes in the offensive line and seeking individuals with a “nasty edge”. If the running backs have holes to run through, the entire offense changes for the positive.

Rookie running back Le’Veon Bell was supposed to be the starter before injuring his foot and made dramatic improvement in practice last week and could be available for duty. The Steelers need some life wherever it can come from.

The Pittsburgh secondary is ancient by NFL standards, but Christian Ponder and a pretty average collection of pass catchers is something this contingent can deal with. The defense has to contain Peterson and force at least two turnovers.

What does Minnesota do to win?

The Vikings secondary is in shambles and injuries to starters make the situation far worse. This is where the defensive line has dig deep and be difference-makers and have Big Ben throwing the ball around for possible turnovers.

Pittsburgh is only conceding 3.3 yards a carry, but opponents are averaging 35 carries a game, which means the Steelers front seven can be wore down with diligence and having a back like Peterson helps immensely.

Plain and simple, Ponder has to play better and utilize players like WR Greg Jennings more effectively down the field. Minnesota has a solid tight end in Kyle Rudolph, but he cannot average 5.6 yards a catch like he did against the Browns.

Final Outcome

In an article I wrote earlier for SBR Forum, NFL Week 4 Games to Avoid, this match was one of them. Nevertheless, I will go with the better quarterback and overall defense of Pittsburgh for my NFL picks.

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NFL Pick: Pick Pittsburgh minus the points, -1 (-120) available at 5Dimes

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