Minnesota Vikings vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Date and Time: Sunday, September 17, 2017, 1 p.m. ET
Location: Heinz Field
Week 2 Opening NFL Odds at BookMaker.eu: Steelers -7, O/U 45
Vikings vs. Steelers TV Coverage: FOX
The Vikings season debut couldn’t have gone much better. The defense led the team’s charge a short season ago playing out to the league’s No. 1 fantasy unit. It however got no help from the offense, and because of it, severely faltered down the stretch. That wasn’t the case in the team’s decisive 29-19 win over New Orleans in the first Monday Night Football installment of the season. It completely shut the Saints ground game down limiting Adrian Peterson and company to just 60 total yards on 20 carries.
While Drew Brees got his through the air, he was matched and then some by Sam Bradford who threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns en route to completing better than 84 percent of his passes. He closed the night with a 143.0 QB rating with Stefon Diggs one of his main beneficiaries after hauling in seven receptions for 93 yards and a pair of touchdowns. With Adrian Peterson watching on the other sideline, his replacement, rookie Dalvin Cook, picked the Saints defense apart for 127 yards on 22 carries. Overall, it was the Vikings best offensive showing in quite some time.
The Steelers have had issues on the road the last couple seasons, so their struggle to dispose of the Cleveland Browns in their Week 1 opener wasn’t that big of a surprise. Especially with Hue Jackson and company fully submerged in how Pittsburgh would look to attack them after partaking in a pair of skirmishes last season. Pittsburgh only outgained the Browns 290-237, and it actually lost the time of possession battle by a couple minutes. Much of that had to do with Cleveland flat out shutting down a rusty Le’Veon Bell who mustered 32 yards on 10 carries in his first appearance of the year after missing the entirety of training camp.
Ben Roethlisberger struggled as well. That is when you take the 11 catches on 11 targets that Antonio Brown turned into 182 receiving yards. Omit him from the stat sheet, and the Steelers likely lost the game. Regardless, sportsbooks around the world were tickled pink when the Browns got back within the closing 10 point spread with just over three minutes to go. The Steelers, along with the Falcons and Panthers were the three most heavily bet sides in Week 1. You can be sure those that failed to cash a ticket will be looking to recoup their losses against a Vikings team that only won three of eight road games last season.
Matchup to Watch
Pittsburgh ranked amongst the top 10 in rush defense a year ago, and looked like it will improve upon that ranking in Week 1 when it held the Browns to just 57 yards on 25 carries. Cleveland’s offensive line is said to be one of the best in the business, yet it had no success whatsoever pushing Javon Hargrave and the front seven around. Minnesota marched a completely retooled offensive line onto the field on Monday Night Football, yet had no issues enforcing its will on the Saints. Bradford was only sacked once, and the line opened holes for a 5.1 yard per carry average. If the Vikings can build upon that effort on the road in a hostile venue against a much better defense, it’s offense might truly be onto something.
Vikings vs. Steelers Picks
The last time the Steelers took to their home field in a game that mattered, they demolished the Miami Dolphins in the playoffs. The win and cover was only the second in their last four tries and moved them to 8-2 straight up and 5-3-2 against the spread in the last 10. Even with that the case, I can’t help but lean towards taking the points with the Vikings at all the top rated sportsbooks. Minnesota has some unfinished business to tend to after faltering terribly in the second half of last season. The defense is better than Pittsburgh’s, and if the offensive line can give Bradford the time he had last week against the Saints, Minnesota will be able to hang with a Steelers offense that looked a bit off last week. If you’re going to give me a touchdown with a team that I believe has the better defense and looks to have a run game to back it up, I’ll take them every time and twice on Sunday.
Vikings vs. Steelers Week 2 ATS Pick: Vikings +7 at BookMaker.eu
Vikings vs. Steelers Score Prediction: Steelers 21 – Vikings 20