Coming off a disastrous loss to the previously-winless Lions, the 5-7 Vikings opened as 3.5-point favorites over the 6-5-1 Steelers for this week's Thursday Night Football matchup.
No, I don't understand it either.
The line has already fallen to 3 points flat at several of the major sportsbooks, and I wouldn't be surprised at all to see that number continue to drop as Thursday approaches.
The Vikings have lost two in a row and have won just three games by more than three points this season, one of which came on a touchdown in overtime. They haven't won a home game by more than three since beating the Seahawks by 13 back in Week 3. And although they could get a few defensive players back from injury this week, they're going to be without Adam Thielen in addition to Dalvin Cook, Danielle Hunter, and possibly Christian Darrisaw.
Meanwhile, the Steelers are coming off a win over the Ravens. Their offense has been inconsistent this season because of Ben Roethlisberger's play, but it has plenty of dangerous playmakers in Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and Pat Freiermuth. The defense, led by NFL sack leader T.J. Watt, dominant DT Cameron Heyward, and ball-hawking safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, is a solid unit.
This has all the makings of yet another one-score game. 11 of the Vikings' 12 games have been decided by eight points or fewer, which leads the NFL by a solid margin. The Steelers are one of three teams tied for second with eight such games, including seven of their last eight. The Vikings also lead with seven games decided by five points or fewer, while the Steelers are tied for second with six. This will probably come down to the final play, so the Vikings being favored by 3.5 points seems silly.
It'll make more sense if that line goes down to 1.5-2.5 points, but even then, should the Vikings really be favored against anyone right now, much less a solid team like the Steelers? I get that they're desperate for a win and playing at home, but still.
As a side note, it's pretty funny that a national TV audience will be subjected to a game between the only two teams who have been unable to beat the Lions this year. The Steelers and Lions tied 16-16 a few weeks ago.
It may not be pretty, but it should at least be dramatic, weird, and entertaining,.
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