Brad Allen: Back the Steelers to light up the scoreboard

9 min

Solid week again last week as the Under in Cleveland came home in a 3-1 day. Those of you that are paying attention may remember there were five picks in last week’s blog, but I got out of the bet on the Over 43.5 in New York, as the forecasted winds picked up significantly. There are a couple of things to mention here.

First is that the market still doesn’t account for wind properly, as I ended up buying out at under 45.5.

My theory here is that modeling drives most major betting markets nowadays, and there’s no real way to model the effect of wind on a game (as far as I know), and of course the stats on that game pointed to the over.

The second point here is an apology as I know some of you missed my tweet on Sunday morning about buying out and had a losing bet.

I hate buying out of a bet, but as I said last week, is important to be flexible with your views and account for new information as it becomes available.

This is actually something I’ve been trying to work on this year – listening to other points of view and checking whether it changes my opinion. My instinct has always been to downplay new information and stick to my guns, and I suspect this is a common trait.

Confirmation bias, according to Psychology Today, means “you seek evidence that confirms your beliefs because being wrong sucks. Being wrong means you’re not as smart as you thought. So you end up seeking information that confirms what you already know.

“When you have a firm foundation of a belief, something that threatens has been shown to physically pain us and increase anxiety.”

“Your brain does this to protect itself. This applies to both your physical and psychological self. When opposing facts challenge your identity, your brain perceives the psychological threat and protects you as if it was an actual physical threat.”

In other words, it’s instinctive to shy away from information that might tell you you’ve had a bad bet, but it might save you a lot of money in the long run.

Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith struggled in a big way last weekend vs the Giants.

Anyway, psychology lesson over for the day, so let’s get to the bets since everyone is skimming through looking for them anyway.

The biggest bet I’ve made this week is Over 41.5 in Pittsburgh/Green Bay. I make this number around 44 and expect it to close in that neighborhood. I think there might be a couple of factors suppressing the total here, starting with the fact that Pittsburgh are 8-2 to the under this season and only cracked 30 points for the first time last week. The Packers were also shut out at home on Sunday and have generally been pretty awful under Brett Hundley.

But I think there’s some recency bias, and it wasn’t shocking to see Hundley struggle in blustery conditions against an elite D off a bye. Remember, only the week before, analysts were hailing his improvements after leading the Packers to an upset win over the Bears.

I expect Hundley to have more success against a Pittsburgh defense that has shown some susceptibility to the pass in recent weeks thanks to injuries to a couple of cornerbacks, including standout Joe Haden. Of course ‘some success’ is all relative, but the Packers team total is around 13.5 currently, and I expect them to handily eclipse that.

On the other side, it’s well known Pittsburgh with Big Ben at the helm have always been more effective at home, with Roethlisberger averaging 8.64 yards per attempt at home compared to 7.45 on the road for his career, with a passer rating of 109.5 compared to 85.3.

But the biggest factor here is the switch to the no-huddle last week. Big Ben said after the comeback in Indianapolis that running the no-huddle had helped kickstart the offense and he wanted to use it more.

Steelers RB Leveon Bell will look to compliment a high octane Steelers passing attack on Sunday night.

They came out against Tennessee and ran a season-high 28 plays out of the no-huddle, with Big Ben throwing 45 passes in three and a bit quarters, piling up 40 points. Look for more of the same against a below average Packers defense.

Elsewhere I’ve backed over 43.5 in the Niners Seahawks game.

The Niners play at the fastest pace in the league, and the Seahawks are also in the top half of that metric now they’ve accepted they can’t run the ball.

It’s also increasingly obvious the Seattle defense is no longer elite without the Legion of Boom on the field. They were strafed on the perimeter by Atlanta, and the Niners should get their points.

I’ve also backed the Browns +8 in Cincinnati, despite having endured a couple of heart-breaking non-covers in the last two weeks. The Browns are probably my second favourite play of the week so far. Their yard-per-play stats in recent weeks make them almost an average team, and pretty much identical to the Bengals. With Myles Garrett and Corey Coleman healthy and up to speed, this Browns team is a lot more talented than earlier in the season.

On the flip side, the Bengals have played three straight road games and the defense could be exhausted by virtue of playing a record number of snaps thanks to the offense’s inability to stay on the field. You’ll never go broke backing a big dog in a divisional game either

Best of luck

My Picks:

  • Over 41.5 pts Packers @ Steelers
  • Over 43.5 pts Seahawks @ 49ers
  • Browns + 8

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