The upcoming Steelers-Seahawks game is a prime example of how a key injury can flip a point spread.
Prior to Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson suffering a finger injury in the team’s last game (a 26-17 loss to the L.A. Rams) that required surgery, Seattle was a 2.5-point favorite on the road in Pittsburgh. But with Wilson missing the Pittsburgh game (and four-to-eight weeks altogether), the Steelers are now a 5-point favorite in Pennsylvania sports betting.
Wilson’s absence also influenced the Over-Under online gambling in Pennsylvania, as that number slid from 48 to 42. It's the Sunday Night Football game on NBC with an 8:20 kickoff.
Frankly, it might be even more than that considering his replacement is veteran Geno Smith. Smith has started just two games in the last six seasons (counting this year).
It might not be fair to judge Smith on the basis of his first two seasons in the league when he got the vast majority of his career starts with the Jets (29 of 31 overall), but the little anyone has to go on indicates that Smith — when he was a starter much earlier in his career in 2013 and 2014 — was given to turnovers (25 TD passes to 34 interceptions).
Steelers Have Been Erratic
The Steelers, meanwhile, are coming off a 27-19 home upset of Denver. The Steelers have had an erratic year with wins as underdogs against Buffalo in the opener and then against the Broncos, sandwiching three straight losses to Las Vegas, Cincinnati and Green Bay.
Pittsburgh’s offense is still adjusting to a revamped offensive line and now has WR JuJu Smith-Shuster out for the year (shoulder).
What Pittsburgh has going for it is leadership; head coach Mike Tomlin and veteran QB Ben Roethlisberger provide ballast. Among skill players, rookie RB Najee Harris and WR Chase Claypool are maturing into reliable weapons.
In the early week wagering, a little more than 60% of the point spread money was on the Steelers (probably because of the line moving past the 4-point threshold). The moneyline saw the Steelers at about -200 and the Seahawks hovering in the +165 range. Giving the odds, Pittsburgh was still attracting more than 75% of the moneyline cash.
Who Will Win?
Prediction: Seattle QB Smith might have matured as a quarterback since his horrible career start in 2013-14 with the Jets but that’s a huge question. The Steelers need to assemble a passing game that compensates for the loss of WR Smith-Shuster and they may be able to do that with Claypool and Harris out of the backfield.
Considering Geno Smith’s track record for turnovers, the Steelers are a lock for the outright win and should cover the spread easily. Pittsburgh 31, Seattle 17.