Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6-1, 6-8 ATS) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-4, 7-7 ATS)
Time: 4:05 p.m. EST
BetRivers Line: Chiefs – 8 (44.5)
The skinny: Kansas City will be out to maintain its one-game grip on the top spot in the AFC playoff standings against Pittsburgh, which is half a game behind five teams currently fighting for the final two wild-card berths.
Facts: Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce, who combined for 339 receiving yards in last Thursday’s 34-28 overtime win in L.A. against the Chargers, the most for any duo in a game this season, were put on the COVID list early in week. Their status remains uncertain for Sunday.
Also on that list as of Thursday morning was pass-rush specialist Chris Jones.
With Pittsburgh, the offense has been struggling with a rookie center and rookie left tackle, resulting in QB Ben Roethlisberger being under duress. But without Jones last week, the Chiefs didn’t get any sacks of L.A.’s Justin Herbert, who threw 38 times. So maybe Big Ben won’t be under terrible pressure here.
Analysis: At midweek, 13 Chiefs were on the COVID list, which if nothing else surely puts a crimp in preparation for this game.
The Steelers, meanwhile, are coming off a 19-13 win over Tennessee. They had a +4 turnover margin, but generated only 168 yards of offense. That should sound alarm bells. And it does.
But with all those points and Pittsburgh still much in the thick of the wildcard and AFC North races, the Steelers are the most desperate team here. But that doesn’t mean Pittsburgh will win, just make it a game.
Steelers at Chiefs Pick
Chiefs 24, Steelers 21
The Raiders opened this week as 1.5-point favorites and the game is a pick ’em at most sportsbooks including Caesars Sportsbook.
Denver Broncos (7-7, 7-7 ATS) at Las Vegas Raiders (7-7, 5-9 ATS)
Time: 4:25 p.m. EST
Line: Broncos -1 (41.5)
The skinny: Both AFC West rivals will be looking to stay relevant in the playoff chase with a win, while the loser will soon be getting sized for a postseason coffin.
Facts: Denver QB Drew Lock will be making his first start of the year in place of Teddy Bridgewater, who suffered a concussion last week vs. Cincinnati. Lock had a 4-9 mark as the No. 1 guy last season, and was 32nd on the league’s passer-rating chart.
In his last start, in the 2020 season finale, the Broncos lost to the Raiders 32-31 in Denver despite having a +4 turnover edge. It’s the only time the past six seasons a team didn’t win with such an advantage.
Las Vegas will be operating on short rest after its game at Cleveland was pushed back two days to Monday because of the Browns’ COVID uprising. The Raiders won 16-14 on a last-second 48-yard FG.
Analysis: The Raiders certainly come in with a more upbeat attitude with having a home game over the Chrismas holiday and after their uplifting win in Cleveland on Monday. And they’ve handled playing on short rest before, winning at Pittsburgh in Week 2.
The status of starting RB Josh Jacobs (questionable/illness) is a concern. But Denver’s top two RBs in Melvin Gordon (thumb/hip) and Javonte Williams (knee) are also questionable. That’s a wash. What isn’t a wash though is the starting QB, where Derek Carr is miles ahead of Lock.
Broncos at Raiders Pick
Raiders 31, Broncos 19
Chicago Bears (4-10, 4-10 ATS) at Seattle Seahawks (5-9, 7-7 ATS)
Time: 4:05 p.m. EST
DraftKings Line: Seahawks -6.5 (43)
The skinny: One team that’s already been ousted from playoff contention, Chicago, will travel halfway across the country to play a Seattle team that could be eliminated before the game kicks off.
Facts: Chicago rookie QB Justin Fields injured an ankle last week against Minnesota in a 17-9 loss and was limited in Wednesday’s drills, but is expected to play. He recently missed two games with fractured ribs.
The Seahawks are working on extra short rest after their 20-10 loss to the Rams on Tuesday. But this week coach Pete Carroll said leading receiver Tyler Lockett is real close to returning off the COVID list. Without him vs. L.A., QB Russell Wilson had his second worst day of the season with regard to passer rating (55.3), completion percentage (54.8) and yards per throw (5.0).
Now Wilson will go against a banged-up Bears secondary that held Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins to 87 yards passing last week on 24 throws.
Analysis: The Bears are used to playing out the string and likely will come in with their rookie QB and attempt to save the job of their popular coach, Matt Nagy. For sure, LB Robert Quinn will bring his “A” game after two sacks last week brought him up to 16, 1.5 off the league lead.
The Seahawks, on the other hand, are unaccustomed to playing any meaningless games and probably won’t find any motivation in finishing with an 8-9 record.
Bears at Seahawks Pick
Bears 19, Seahawks 16
Last week: 9-7 ATS, 10-6 SU
Season total: 106-115-3 (.480) ATS; 136-87-1 (.610) SU