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New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire)
December 7th, 2023
With one of the lowest Over/Unders in NFL history, the Pittsburgh Steelers' matchup with the New England Patriots may not be the most anticipated prime-time game of the 2023 season, but there's still money to be made and value to be found at the sportsbook.
With Kenny Pickett out and Mitch Trubisky set to start on Thursday, the Steelers are a 5.5-point home favorite against the 2-10 Patriots and backup Bailey Zappe.
Let's look at the top Thursday Night Football trends for the Patriots-Steelers and provide YOUBET's best picks for the AFC showdown.
With a 2-10 record against the spread, no team has been worse than New England in 2023. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, is 7-5 ATS and 5-3 ATS in conference games, and the Steelers have covered in two of three when favored at home.
The Patriots are 1-7 ATS as an underdog and 0-3 ATS as a road dog, while they're a concerning 0-8 ATS in non-division games. Last week, New England hosted the 5-7 Los Angeles Chargers and gave Zappe the start during a rain-soaked afternoon in which New England got shut out in a 6-0 defeat.
The Patriots also made the wrong kind of history as they became the first team in the Super Bowl era to lose three straight despite giving up 10 points or fewer in each of those games.
Zappe went 13-of-25 for 141 yards through the air against the second-worst pass defense in the league while taking five sacks and faces a better defense here. Even worse for the Pats offense, Rhamondre Stevenson is out with an ankle injury, while receiver Demario Douglas will miss Thursday's game with a concussion, and DeVante Parker and JuJu Smith-Schuster are questionable as well.
The Patriots defense will need to keep them in this game and force turnovers by Trubisky, who has two interceptions (both in a 20-10 loss to Jacksonville) from three games played.
The Steelers are likely to come out on top in an ugly slugfest on Thursday, but the safer bet may be the Pittsburgh moneyline, as the Steelers are 4-2 straight up in their last six as the favorite and New England is 1-8 in its last nine as an underdog.
Even with the lowest Over/Under (30) in three decades, the Under is the better bet on Thursday.
The Under has cashed with the Steelers more than any other team in 2023 (10-2 record), and the Patriots are not far behind, with the Under hitting in nine of 12. Moreover, the Over is 0-5 in New England away games this season, and the Under is 1-7 for both the Steelers and the Patriots in non-division games.
The Steelers have seen point totals of 26 and 23 in two of their last three, and the total just barely topped 30 in last week's 24-10 home loss to Arizona.
As for New England, the total has not surpassed 17 points in its last three, and the Under is 1-4 when New England is the away team this season.
In a game likely to be dominated by defense, take the Under on Thursday.
Also note, the last time the Under was set at 30 points was in 1993, when 2-11 New England beat 1-12 Cincinnati 7-2.
Steel City sights. pic.twitter.com/y1tqRZENcr— New England Patriots (@Patriots) December 7, 2023
Steel City sights. pic.twitter.com/y1tqRZENcr
The Pats clearly lack confidence at quarterback and are tied for fourth in rushing attempts in the league over the last three games, with 25.7. Now with Stevenson sidelined, Ezekiel Elliott will get the bulk of the carries and should see an uptick in action after he rushed for 52 yards on 17 attempts once Stevenson left the first quarter with injury in Week 13.
In the two games prior to the Chargers loss, the Patriots handed off the rock to Stevenson 21 times in a 10-7 defeat to the New York Giants and 20 times in a 10-6 setback to Indianapolis.
Look for Zeke to eat on Thursday and take the Over on 16.5 carries (+105) against a Steelers defense tied for 22nd in opponent rushing attempts (28.3).
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