Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Arizona Cardinals Pick 12/8/19
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5 SU, 8-4 ATS) vs. Arizona Cardinals (3-8-1 SU, 7-4-1 ATS)
NFL Week 14
Date/Time: Sunday, December 8, 2019 at 4:25PM EST
Where: State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
Point Spread: PIT -2.5/ARI +2.5 (SportsBetting.ag)
Over/Under Total: 43.5
The Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday in week 14 action from State Farm Stadium. For the Cardinals, they could really use a good development after dropping their fifth game in a row on Sunday in a 34-7 loss to the Rams. It won’t be easy this week, as the Steelers have stayed intact and now look to make a postseason push. On Sunday, they avenged their only loss in the last seven weeks by beating the Browns at home, 20-13. They look to keep it going, albeit in a tricky road spot in a building they seldom see. Who can produce the cover for bettors this week?
Delivering Against the Spread
At a combined 15-8-1, these teams have been coming through for bettors this season in a big way. For Arizona, it’s a bit more unusual, as they continue covering despite a lack of overall good results from a straight-up standpoint. In falling big-time to the Rams last week, it was only the second time since September that they failed to cover. And with the Steelers surprising a lot of people with their big spurt, they’ve rewarded bettors who showed faith with eight covers in their last ten games. The takeaway is that what these teams produce on the field surpasses what most people project.
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Is it Curtains for Arizona?
Pluckiness against the spread aside, the results just haven’t been there for the Cardinals lately. After an 0-3-1 start, they won three in a row to give some signs of hope and haven’t won since. Allowing them to stay in some games is an up-and-coming rookie in QB Kyler Murray. At least they got their quarterback, even if some stuff that comes with being a rookie still pops up and undermines the team. Larry Fitzgerald is a steadying force on this offense, and Christian Kirk has connected well with Murray. On defense, for all their issues, they can make plays and apply a decent pass-rush led by Chandler Jones and his 13 sacks.
Still, it’s hard to make it work with this Arizona offensive line, something an attacking Pittsburgh defense should be able to exploit. With all the different backs they’ve used, the Cardinals are having trouble finding consistent production from that position. And while the Steelers’ offense is not the best part of their team and an Arizona home-defense might be able to hang in there, Devlin Hodges might put up numbers on a last-ranked pass defense. The Steelers could be getting James Conner back, which would also make life hard on an Arizona run defense that isn’t much better than their abysmal pass-coverage.
Steelers on a Mission
If after an 0-3 start and all the crippling injuries, someone told you the Steelers would be 7-5 starting undrafted rookie free agent Devlin Hodges at quarterback, you’d likely give them a quizzical look. It’s hard to remember another team doing this well with the unending personnel issues that plague this team. Now, after all they’ve been through, they’re still making it work without their two biggest contributors on offense in Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster having missed games recently. Both are listed as day-to-day.
An aggressive and stout defense figures to make life hard on Arizona this week. They have been stout against both the pass and run, making life hard on better offenses than what Arizona brings to the table. They can score, get turnovers, rush the passer, and generally be very punishing to play. TJ Watt and Bud Dupree lead a fierce pass-rush and should be able to get to Murray. With Joe Haden and big playmaker Minkah Fitzpatrick, their secondary makes a ton of game-changing plays. It’s just hard to feel that optimistic about Arizona against this defense. Arizona is 23rd in the league in total yardage on offense and would appear to have a bad matchup against this difference-making defense, a group that has carried Pittsburgh all season when everything else went wrong.
Can Arizona Overcome the Matchup Deficits?
In some ways, they stand a chance. The sorry state of their defense will come less to light against a depleted and underpowered Steelers’ offense. At home and with a playmaking element that can surface, it’s possible that we see the Cardinals’ defense hanging in there and keeping the team in the game. It’s going to be important to see if Conner or Smith-Schuster get back in action this week, but even if they do return, this won’t be the hardest spot for this “D.”
It’s the Arizona offense that elicits more concern. They don’t even fare that well against middling defenses, never mind a “D” like Pittsburgh’s where guys are playing like their dinner money is on the line. They can’t run the ball and will be one-dimensional trying to air it out against a Steelers’ secondary that has been playing at near elite levels for a few months now. I see all kinds of disruption taking place on Sunday.
Lay the Points on the Road Favorite
Frankly, this spot isn’t terribly ideal for Pittsburgh in an out-of-conference long road trip on a field a lot of these guys have never seen. Getting here has been an exacting struggle, and you never know when the ceiling will cave in on the Steelers, as certain football realities manifest, namely an offense that is struggling to find viable firepower. It’s just with the stakes being what they are, and with how well their defense matches up, I think it’s enough to make the Steelers the better value this week. I’ll take Pittsburgh.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Pittsburgh Steelers minus 2.5 points.
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