Game: Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings
Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Odds: Steelers +3, Vikings -3
The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t have much time to enjoy their 20-19 win over Baltimore last Sunday. Tonight, they will face the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The short week for the Vikings was probably a good thing as Minnesota became the first victim of the Detroit Lions this season. Detroit had not won a game all season but pulled off a 29-27 upset of the Vikings on a last-second touchdown.
Despite the loss, the Vikings (5-7) are not out of the NFC playoff race. Their chances are not all that great as the Vikings have just two wins in their last six games. Pittsburgh (6-5-1) is still very much alive in the AFC postseason race. The Steelers’ win on Sunday broke a three-game winless streak. Pittsburgh was almost the first victim of the Lions but ended up in a tie. The Steelers then lost consecutive games to the Chargers and Bengals before beating the Ravens.
It won’t be easy for either team. The Steelers have had issues running the football all season. They rank just 29th in rushing offense and rookie Najee Harris finally broke out of his funk with 71 yards last week. That helped QB Ben Roethlisberger in the passing game as he threw for 236 yards and two touchdowns. WR Diontae Johnson caught eight passes for 105 yards and both touchdowns from Roethlisberger. If the Steelers can’t find ways to run the ball, tonight will be a long night.
The Vikings are in the same boat. They must establish the run. In three of their five wins this season, Minnesota rushed for at least 120 yards. The Vikings have only lost once when they rushed for more than 120 yards. That was a 34-31 loss to the Ravens in a game where Minnesota ran for 131 yards.
The problem for Minnesota will be running against a pretty solid Pittsburgh defense. Baltimore, one of the top three rushing offenses in the NFL, managed just 107 yards against the Steelers last week. The Vikings have been playing without RB Dalvin Cook though he is listed as questionable for tonight. Backup Alexander Mattison is capable. He had 90 yards against Detroit, but Minnesota managed just 100 as a team.
Another issue for the Vikings is wide receiver Adam Thielen. Minnesota’s leading receiver will not play tonight due to an ankle injury suffered last week. It will be interesting to see if Minnesota can keep putting points on the board as they have in the past five weeks. The Vikings have averaged 29 points per game in their last five. The total in four of those five games went Over.
The Steelers have won four of the last five games against the Vikings. The total has gone Under in four of the last five Steelers-Vikings games. Both teams are traditionally ones that lean on the run and defense to win games.
Minnesota is just 6-13 ATS in its last 19 games overall. Pittsburgh is just 2-5 ATS in its last seven games.