Thursday Night Titans vs. Steelers: NFL Betting Odds, Picks, and Tips
On "Thursday Night Football," the Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5, 36.5) take on the Tennessee Titans to kick off Week 9.
So what can we anticipate on Thursday in terms of betting?
Here to provide their opinions are betting analysts Tyler Fulghum, Eric Moody, Seth Walder, Anita Marks, and Aaron Schatz.
The Steelers are coming off a defeat to the Jaguars, while the Titans are coming off a victory over the Falcons. How do you plan to wager on this match?
Schatz // Given how weak the Titans' defence has been this season, that is a very low total. In terms of DVOA, the Pittsburgh defence is "only" ranked tenth. The Titans offence is generally sluggish, but the Steelers have also had a very quick offence. Although I believe the spread to be quite realistic, I choose to take the over in this game (36.5).
Fulghum: Will Levis had a great showing in his NFL debut, although the game was played at home. This will be his first real road game, and it will take place in Pittsburgh, a hostile setting. My pick is the Steelers -2.5 to win and cover after a setback. The Titans' pass defence is quite beatable, but the Steelers quarterback issue is undoubtedly a problem. Mike Vrabel and Mike Tomlin will almost certainly make this a low-scoring game, but after Levis' spectacular start, I'd rather take a chance on him not to regress to the norm.
Marks: UNDER 36.5 and Steelers (-2.5). The Steelers defence won't fall short at home against a rookie quarterback on his first road trip, in my opinion. Travelling to take on the Steelers defence is a whole different animal than having two weeks to prepare at home against the Falcons. The Titans are 0-6 SU in their past six away games, while the Steelers are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games. This game important because Pittsburgh is tied with three other teams for second place in the AFC North! These two defences are strong, and the offences struggle to score points. This season, primetime unders are above 70%.
In this game, Will Levis is anticipated to make his second NFL start. Has Levis' outstanding start (19-29, 238 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions) altered your perception of the Titans (3-4) moving forward?
Schatz: I don't think Levis' premiere was as spectacular as it seemed at first. We were aware of his arm power, and those deep bombs to DeAndre Hopkins were undoubtedly amazing. But Levis' four touchdown throws accounted for the majority of his worth. This year, he only had a 29% completion percentage on pass plays against one of the league's worst pass defences, Atlanta. Yes, I don't feel much different about the Titans when you combine that with my desire to avoid exaggerating the significance of a particular game. With Ryan Tannehill starting as quarterback, they appeared to be a mediocre squad; with Levis, they are a mediocre team too.
Fulghum: Not quite, no. By dealing All-Pro safety Kevin Byard to the Eagles, the Titans themselves gave us a signal as to what they think is the most likely conclusion for them this season. This is a group that is trying to retool and is selling. Although Levis will undoubtedly benefit from these games and gain significant experience in his first year, this AFC squad is not playoff-caliber.
The receiving yards prop for DeAndre Hopkins is 51.5. Are you intrigued to this bet considering how much of a relationship he and Levis had in Week 8?
Gloghum: It is, I must say, interesting. On the one hand, the Titans are road underdogs with a possibly throw-heavy game script, Hopkins had 128 yards last week, and the Steelers are not a terrific pass defence. However, Hopkins only saw six targets in the game versus Atlanta, and it is evident that his effectiveness will decline. Still, I believe that rookie quarterbacks have a higher chance than more seasoned quarterbacks of locking on to the team's top pass-catcher throughout route progressions. After what they witnessed last week, I can totally see Titans fans wanting to slam the OVER here, but I won't be betting on this.
Moody: This wager appeals to me. Against the Falcons, Hopkins and Levis had a clear rapport. Over his career, Hopkins has averaged 77.6 receiving yards per game. In the NFL Nation Fantasy Fallout, ESPN's Turron Davenport, a Titans NFL Nation writer, provided some fascinating analysis on whether or not we should anticipate more reliable play from the Titans' pass catchers in the near future. He remarked, "Expect that trend to continue." "Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly has also shown a tendency to call plays with Hopkins as the first option and is willing to move him around the formation to create favourable matchups." Hopkins has a good probability of surpassing 51.5 receiving yards in this encounter.
Which prop in this game is your favourite?
Schatz: With Diontae Johnson back, Pittsburgh's primary target on short throws is him. The Titans are ranked 31st in short throws and 32nd in DVOA when facing the top wide receivers. Let's go with Diontae Johnson OVER 4.5 catches since I think his reception prop is more appealing to me than his yardage prop.
Najee Harris has under 44.5 run yards for Fulghum. The Titans are among the best pass-funnel defences in the league, which means that although they excel in run defence, they have trouble covering the pass. Najee Harris faces a difficult opponent, but he may not even be the greatest running back on his own squad. Jaylen Warren is that. Against the Titans, I prefer to take the opponent running back underdog, especially if he or she is not very good or efficient.
Walder: Author Alex Sharp Above half a bag (+115). In his first start of the season last week, Will Levis had a 6% sack rate, but it was just one game. I find it more instructive that he had a very high 11% sack percentage at Kentucky in the previous season. I've configured my sack model to represent Levis as a guy who has historically had an 8% sack rate, so this is kind of a wild estimate. After subtracting pushes, it gives Highsmith a 51.5% probability of reaching the over, even with that quite modest estimate. This is a value in comparison to the plus-money.
Najee Harris OVER 8.5 receiving yards, according to Moody's. Since the Steelers' bye week, Harris has above 8.5 receiving yards in two straight games. He has eight targets for the same time frame. The Titans' strong run defence means that Harris will probably receive a few tick downs from Kenny Pickett on Thursday night.
Are you playing any other games on Thursday?
Walder: Under 31.5 attempts at passing by Kenny Pickett (-102). The Steelers are far less likely to be trailing while facing a rookie quarterback, so they can likely play a more cautious style of football and let their defence do the heavy lifting (as it typically does). With the Steelers as 2.5-point favourites and Pittsburgh's historical pass rates, my model predicts that Pickett will attempt just 28.4 passes on average.
Cole Holcomb UNDER 8.5 tackles plus assists for Walder (-150). It is less probable that the Steelers will find themselves in a scenario where the opposition has a sizable lead and is simply running the ball over and over again because they are the true favourites in this game. That ought to mean that linebacker Holcomb will have less opportunities to make tackles. According to my model, he will only log 6.8 tackles plus assists.