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The Pittsburgh Steelers have battled their way back from a porous start to the season to work their way back into the playoff picture. The Steelers are fresh off a much-needed win over the Cleveland Browns.
Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals have continued to tumble south as the season has worn on. The Cardinals are coming off a disappointing blowout loss at home against the Los Angeles Rams.
All of that sets up what should be an intriguing interconference matchup in Week 14.
Steelers finding success behind defensive prowessFollowing a rough start out of the gate to the season, the Steelers have been one of the hotter teams in the league over the last few weeks. It has seen them push their way into the playoff picture, currently holding the sixth spot in the AFC heading into Week 14 action. A large chunk of their success has come from their play defensively as they have been one of the top teams in that regard this season. The Steelers are ranked fifth in total yards allowed, 12th against the run, and sixth allowing 18.8 points per contest. It has been the backbone of the team as the season has worn despite the numerous injuries and lackluster play that they have had on the other side of the ball.
The Steelers have been hit hard with injuries that has limited their offensive production. Beyond losing star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger early on in the season, the team has played multiple games without the likes of Pro Bowlers James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster, who are their top two playmakers in the offense. It has also seen them move to their third-string quarterback Devlin Hodges to provide stability at the position. Hodges is coming off his first start as he had a respectable outing in the win over the Browns as he completed 14-of-21 passes for 212 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Ultimately, the contest will come down to their defense being the difference-maker on the road against the Cardinals.
Cardinals hoping to get back on trackIt has been a tough season for the Cardinals as they have continued to stumble as the season has worn on with their roster that has plenty of holes on both sides of the ball. The team has struggled to find any footing with much of that coming on the defensive side of the ball, as they have been one of the worst units in the league. Arizona is currently ranked last giving up the most yards at 426.3 yards per contest, last against the pass at 307.5 yards per game, and 31st with allowing 29.3 points per contest. These issues have continued to plague them despite having some veteran players along the roster on that side of the ball with Patrick Peterson, Terrell Suggs, and Chandler Jones.
Kyler Murray with his 4th rushing TD of the season. pic.twitter.com/g2PAAsLvsN— Arizona Cardinals ⋈ (@AZCardinals) December 1, 2019
That simply hasn't been anywhere enough to push them forward on the field. That was certainly the case against the Rams last week giving up 27 offensive points on 524 total yards with 417 yards coming from quarterback Jared Goff. Their defensive issues have made it extremely difficult for rookie quarterback Kyler Murray to make any serious headway on the other side of the ball. Murray has played quite well in his first year in spite of the Cardinals defensive woes and porous offensive line play. However, he's coming off a tough outing against the Rams where he threw an interception with just 163 yards on 19-of-34 completed passes. Ultimately, their lack of defensive success makes it too difficult to trust them on any given week at this point.
The top supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- Arizona is 1-4 ATS in their last five games in December.
- Arizona is 1-4 ATS in their last five home games against a team with a winning road record.
- Arizona is 1-5 ATS in their last six games as a home favorite.
- Pittsburgh is 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight games as a road favorite of 0.5-3.0.
- Pittsburgh is 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
- Pittsburgh is 7-2 ATS in their last nine games on grass
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
There are a couple of reasons why this line is much closer than you would have thought, given the number of struggles that the Cardinals have had this year. First, this game is being played in Arizona, which gives them their home field advantage that betting sites give to the home team. Secondly, the Steelers are beat up offensively with key contributors still on the mend. All that said, Pittsburgh will still handle business with their defense doing most of the heavy lifting on Sunday afternoon. That has been their bread and butter as of late, and that will continue to be the case in Week 14 action.
Prediction: Pittsburgh -2.5
Full-Game Total Pick
At that same token, this game will be dictated by the play of the Steelers defense, which has been one of the top units in the league. It could be argued that their defense is better than the Rams, and they held the Cardinals in check to one scoring drive that came late in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, it's difficult to trust either these offenses at this point as they both have had their struggles. Yes, Pittsburgh is playing one of the worst units in the league, but it's their counterparts that will struggle on Sunday to even trust this going past the over/under line.
Prediction: Under 43.5