Steelers (1-1) at Raiders (1-1)
Spread: Raiders -2.5
Weather: Indoor venue
The spread for this contest bounced around early this week, ranging from Raiders +1 all the way to Raiders -3. As of this writing, the spread has settled at Raiders -2.5.
The total has taken a minor dip from 43.5 to its current mark of 43 points.
Raiders Offense vs. Steelers Defense
The Pittsburgh Steelers have uncharacteristically given up the most rushing yards to running backs so far this season. A big reason for that is the lynchpin of Pittsburgh’s front, Cameron Heyward, is out because of an injury. Josh Jacobs only had nine carries for negative two yards in Buffalo last week. It would be no surprise if Las Vegas leaned on Jacobs early and often against Pittsburgh.
Jimmy Garoppolo has been little more than a game manager, with 200 and 185 passing yards in his first two games. So far, Davante Adams is second in the league with a 34 percent target share. Despite that, he’s 18th in receiving yards with 150, which is just shy of 39 percent of Garoppolo’s total passing yards.
Jakobi Meyers missed Week 2 because of an injury, but he had a 38.5 percent target share on opening day. So far, the Las Vegas Raiders’ limited passing game runs through Adams and Meyers. The Steelers have allowed the 11th-most receiving yards to wide receivers, making this a solid matchup for Adams and Meyers.
Steelers Offense vs. Raiders Defense
The Steelers’ offense has struggled through the first two games, but it also faced San Francisco and Cleveland. We already knew the 49ers were a top-flight defense, but the Browns gave up just three points to the Bengals on opening day. The Raiders’ defense is a much softer opponent for Kenny Pickett’s offense.
The Raiders have allowed the third-most rushing yards and the eighth-most receiving yards to running backs this year. Najee Harris has 74 rushing yards on 16 carries, while Jaylen Warren has 26 yards on nine carries. Harris has been the more productive runner, though Warren has 12 targets to Harris’s four. In both phases, this is a plus matchup for the Steelers’ running backs.
With Diontae Johnson sidelined, George Pickens saw 10 targets against Cleveland last week. Pickens caught four passes for 127 receiving yards, but 71 came on one play. Calvin Austin had four targets, while Allen Robinson had three against the Browns. The Raiders have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to slot receivers through two games. So far, Robinson has the most slot-heavy role in Pittsburgh.
What You’re Betting On
The Raiders have a handful of high-end players, but the rest of their roster is mediocre. Through the first two games, Garoppolo has been a game manager. That was fine in San Francisco, but Las Vegas will need more out of its quarterback than Garoppolo has given them. Jacobs is in a plus matchup against the Steelers reduced front. If you’re betting on the Raiders, you are building that bet around a strong game from Jacobs with the expectation Pickett continues to struggle.
If you’re betting on the Steelers, you are always building that bet around their defense. They’ll be without Heyward in the interior, and Minkah Fitzpatrick’s status is in doubt. If Fitzpatrick misses this contest, Pittsburgh will be without two of its three best defenders. The Steelers’ offense has struggled in both phases through the first two games. If you’re betting on Pittsburgh, you expect Pickett and the Steelers run game to take a step forward. Against the Raiders’ defense, those aren’t unreasonable expectations.
Score Prediction: Steelers 24, Raiders 17
Ryan’s Recent Betting Record
ATS 2021: 49-31
ATS 2022: 48-32
ATS 2023: 4-6
Props 2022: 60-40
Props 2023: 4-2