Pro Football key matchup Steelers & 49ers or Patriots & Broncos

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The Pro Football game of the week on paper appears to be Monday night’s key matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) traveling to San Francisco 49ers (10-3).

However, if letting the people speak by volume of tickets written on a single game, the Patriots (10-3) visit to Denver (8-5) is the overwhelming choice as week 15’s game of the week.

It doesn’t help the PITT-SF cause that most almost every Las Vegas sports book has had the game off the board due to the status of Ben Roethlisberger’s ankle.

Roethlisberger is officially listed as probable for the game, although Lucky’s sports books — the one book that has had the game up all week — currently has a number up as though Big Ben is extremely doubtful.

“From everything I’m reading in the Pittsburgh papers, I’m booking it as if Roethlisberger is not going to play,” said Lucky’s sports book director Jimmy Vaccaro who hails from Pittsburgh. “I’ve seen this play out with him before and not practicing on Wednesday is the first major indicator he won’t be playing. I just told our guys to move quick on the game as more information becomes official.”

Lucky’s opened with the 49ers as 1-point favorites and currently have them at -3 (-120).

Should Roethlisberger not be able to go, the Steelers would have Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon as back-up options which would further take some luster off the matchup.

The 49ers have lost two of their last three games coming in, while the Steelers are currently on a four game winning streak and have won 8 of the last 9.

“This is a big game for the 49ers and wrong time of the year for them to start slumping,” said Vaccaro.

Now, back to the Broncos and Patriots. You’d be hard pressed to not have some kind of emotion one way or another on this game because it’s been crammed down our throats all week if watching any sports show or listening to talk radio.

Tim Tebow-fever has swept the nation and people can’t seem to get enough which is why program directors of all kind are keeping the topic on a continual cycle.

The biggest question this week is why the Patriots are 6 ½-point road favorites. The Wynn Resort opened the Patriots -5½ and were bet up the ladder with large money a couple times to get to their current number, which answers the why part.

But think about it, just last week the Patriots were -7½ at Washington, a team that had lost 7 of 8 coming in. This week they are now laying -6½ at the home of a team that has won 7 of 8.

The public is currently taking the Patriots at a 3-to-2 ratio in ticket counts at the betting windows with the feeling that the Patriots and Tom Brady will be a major upgrade in talent from the teams Denver has been beating. Even with the Patriots allowing a league worst 416 yards per game, the Brady factor is what is driving the bets here.

However, Denver hasn’t been too kind to Brady over his career. It’s surprising to see that he is only 1-6 against the Broncos while having dominated just about every other team in the league. The Broncos edge hasn’t just been during the Brady reign, either, as Denver has won 17 of the last 21 meetings.

The are a couple of pivotal games in the NFC East this week beginning with the Cowboys (7-6) who travel to Tampa Bay (4-9) Saturday Night. On Sunday morning the Giants (7-6) play the Redskins (4-9) and then later in the day the Jets (8-5) play the Eagles (5-8).

As hard as it may be to fathom, the Eagles still have a chance at winning the division with a few scenarios going their way, which begin with having Dallas and the Giants both lose.

We almost have a Week 17 type of situation here where the Eagles will know what they’re playing for by the time their game starts. Should the Cowboys and Giants both win, it’s all over for the Eagles regardless of what they do Sunday.

Unlike Week 17 teams in the playoff hunt, the Eagles have known for some time that their hopes were minimal for about the last two months. Having it become a reality finally shouldn’t be too much of a sting to their performance.

The Eagles opened at -1½-point favorites and are now -3 (EV). The Cowboys opened -6½ and are now -7 and the Giants have stayed steady at the Wynn at -7 (EV) with the Hilton having the low number in town at -6½.

The Buccaneers are an interesting look this week just because of a similar situation they were in earlier this season. In Week 5, the 49ers pounded the Bucs 48-3. The following week the Saints came to town as 6-point favorites and Tampa Bay won 26-20. Last week Jacksonville put up 41.

We’ll have to see if the Bucs respond similarly against Dallas with the same type of spread against them as the Saints game.

The Wynn opened the Packers (13-0) at -14 (EV) when almost everyone else opened -13½. The Wynn is currently -13½ while the number is steady at -14 at most shops. There won’t be too many Chiefs (5-8) tickets out there this week, but there is a little question attached to bettors minds before making a bet on the Packers due to what happened to Greg Jennings last week.

How far ahead will the Packers be before resting their key players to avoid injury? And once they do call the dogs off, does it set up an opportunity for a back-door cover by the Chiefs with a meaningless late TD?

Vaccaro doesn’t think all that will matter just because it’s the Chiefs.

“The first thing to consider in this game before we start talking about all the other Packers intangibles is how bad the Chiefs are. They’ve scored 45 points in their last six games and now they have a coaching gone. That team is a mess right now,” said Vaccaro.

“As for the Packers, I think they’re going for it all and embracing the undefeated thing and wouldn’t expect them to change that despite Jennings getting hurt last week. I could see this game quickly going from a 14-3 game to 31-3 rather quickly like what happened to the Raiders last week”

The Raiders (7-6) opened as 1-point favorites against the Lions (8-5), but Detroit money quickly moved the Lions to 1-point road favorites.

The Dolphins-Bills game has been off the board at just about every sports book because of the status of Matt Moore who is likely to miss with a concussion. J.P. Losman took all the snaps in Wednesday’s practice for the Dolphins. Lucky’s is the only book in town to have it on the board and offer the game at PICK’EM.

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