Week 14 of the 2021 NFL season kicks off Thursday night when the Vikings play host to the Steelers in a showdown with playoff implications.
The Vikings are hoping to welcome back star running back Dalvin Cook, who missed last week with a shoulder injury. On Tuesday, we learned that Cook was a limited participant in practice for the first time since getting hurt in Week 12. Despite the return, my Vegas sources are indicating he will not be able to suit up on the short week.
Minnesota’s offense will also be without another major component as star wideout Adam Thielen will also miss Thursday’s matchup with Pittsburgh after suffering an ankle injury last Sunday against Detroit.
The Vikings will look to bounce back after suffering a heartbreaking 29-27 defeat to the previously winless Detroit Lions on the final play of the game. Minnesota will look to notch its first win against the AFC North this season after losing to Cleveland, Cincinnati and Baltimore earlier this year. The Vikings are 3-2 SU and 2-3 ATS at home this season. Despite their current two-game losing skid, combined with the losses of Cook and Thielen, oddsmakers still believe they are worthy of being more than field goal favorites.
The Steelers earned their first win in nearly a month when they beat AFC North rival Baltimore 20-19 as 4-point home underdogs last week. In that impressive win over the Ravens, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger looked the best he has all season, producing a perfect passer rating in the fourth quarter of the comeback victory. Roethlisberger is 9-5 (.643) in his career on Thursday Night Football.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Minnesota Vikings Betting Trends and Info
- Spread: Pittsburgh Steelers +3.5 (-110) | Minnesota Vikings -3.5 (-110)
- Moneyline: Pittsburgh (+145) | Minnesota (-175)
- Total: 43.5– Over (-110) | Under 43.5 (-110)
- Public (Spread) Betting Percentages: PIT 61% | MIN 39%
- Game Info: Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021 | 8:20 pm ET | NFL Network
The line has held steady since its opening in favor of Minnesota (5-7 SU; 6-6 ATS) as 3.5-point home favorites at SI Sportsbook. The total, which opened at 45, has dropped to 43.5. The Steelers (6-5-1 SU; 5-7 ATS), who have averaged the fourth-fewest rushing yards (86.9) per game this season, will look to get rookie Najee Harris going against the league’s fourth-worst rushing defense (allowing 131.5 rushing yards per game on the ground). Pittsburgh has been solid away from Heinz Field, posting an 8-5 ATS mark over their last 13 regular-season road games.
In Week 14, if Pittsburgh’s offense picks up where it left off in the final 15 minutes against Baltimore, then fantasy managers should find solid results on the short week. Star wideout Diontae Johnson has drawn 11-plus targets in four consecutive games and is in line for solid production against a Minnesota defense that is surrendering the third-most total yards per game (382.0). Johnson has posted 15-plus PPR fantasy points in every game over the last month, including 10 of 11 games overall. Facing the league’s 23rd-ranked pass defense (250.5 passing yards per game), Pittsburgh will likely lean heavily on Johnson once again on Thursday night. Respected money has backed over his receiving yardage projection of 80.5, which he has surpassed in four consecutive games as well as seven of 11 overall.
On the ground, expect to see plenty of rookie running back Najee Harris, who has notched 15-plus PPR fantasy points in 10 of 12 games this season. Harris will now face the Vikings' 29th-ranked run defense with a rushing projection of 70.5 rushing yards. Instead of that market, pro money is targeting Harris in the passing game - specifically his total receptions. Bettors should look to invest in the former Alabama standout surpassing 3.5 receptions against Minnesota. Harris has exceeded that number in seven games this season and now faces a Vikings defense that has allowed six opposing running backs to surpass this total working out of the backfield this season.
Vikings Player Prop Info
On the other side of the ball, the Vikings will be down two true game-changers in Cook and Thielen, leaving wideout Justin Jefferson as the primary weapon. On Thursday, oddsmakers at SI Sportsbook have Jefferson listed at 92.5 on his receiving yardage projection, a total he has surpassed five times this season. Pittsburgh has allowed opposing WR1s Tee Higgins, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Courtland Sutton and Henry Ruggs to exceed this projection previously this season. The second-year star has turned 33 targets into 23 receptions for 434 yards and three touchdowns over the last three games. This is a tricky number for a player who should receive the bulk of the volume but could see the safety roll over the top of many formations, forcing quarterback Kirk Cousins to look in other directions.
Frankie's Thursday Night Football Play
NFL bettors just witnessed the Vikings burn teaser and moneyline parlay wagers last week losing to the previously winless Detroit Lions on the final play of the game as 7-point road favorites.
As we stressed last week, if you are under the assumption that backing home teams in the NFL is a profitable endeavor this season, you are sadly mistaken. In fact, home teams are just 85-108-1 (44.1%) ATS, while more specifically home favorites are a disappointing 45-65-1 (41.0%) ATS thus far in 2021.
In this contest we will look to back a trend that is hitting at a near 60% clip - backing the road underdog. Overall, road ‘dogs are 65-45-1 (59.0%) against the number and on Thursday night that involves backing the healthier club in Pittsburgh as well as the hook.
BET: Pittsburgh +3.5 (-110)
Diontae Johnson, WR, Steelers: Over 80.5 Receiving Yards
Najee Harris, RB, Steelers: Over 3.5 Receptions
SI BET REVIEW
2021 SI Betting Monday Night Football: 7-6 ATS / Props 12-12 +3.75 units
2021 SI Betting NFL Football Overall YTD: 38-30 ATS & Props +10.52 Units
2020 SI Betting NFL Football: 72-58-1 ATS (55%)
More betting and fantasy coverage:
- Week 14 Thursday Night Player Props
- Week 13 Bad Beats & Big Payouts
- Conference Championship Odds
- NFL Futures Awards Values
- Week 14 Rankings and Stat Projections
Frankie Taddeo is a successful high-stakes fantasy football player who created the first-ever DFS program ever offered in a Las Vegas sportsbook. Frankie is SI Betting's Senior Analyst and provides his significant experience and resources in the sports betting scene. You can follow Frankie on Twitter @Frankie_Fantasy for his latest betting and fantasy insights from Las Vegas.