Week 14 TNF Showdown: Pittsburgh Steelers At Minnesota Vikings

by Matt Babich · Matchups Start/Sit
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Advanced stats and analytics will be utilized to identify favorable matchups and players to avoid. The purpose of this article is to paint a picture of how the teams play and matchup with one another in less than 1,000 words.

As the season continues, less emphasis will be put on last season and early season’s stats. Vegas trends will also be implemented to help predict the game flow. I’ll conclude the article with a Cliff Notes section and give the readers my prediction for the game.

Welcome to the newest edition of Thursday Night Showdown. I’ll be guiding you through the important aspects to watch in each Thursday night matchup.

Without further ado, let’s see what the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings have in store for us.

Vegas Trends

  • Pittsburgh are 2-6 SU in their last 8 games on the road.
  • Pittsburgh are 5-5 ATS in their last 10 games.
  • The total has gone OVER in 4 of Pittsburgh’s last 5 games on the road.
  • Minnesota are 6-13 ATS in their last 19 games.
  • The total has gone OVER in 4 of Minnesota’s last 5 games.
  • Minnesota are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games played in December.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Welcome to the Ben Roethlisberger retirement tour. This is likely his final season with the Steelers, and his play is showing it. On 415 (No. 12 among qualified quarterbacks) pass attempts, he totals a 44.3 (No. 24) Total QBR and a 7.5 (No. 27) Accuracy Rating. Playing on a short week and averaging 14.8 (No. 25) Fantasy Points per Game, you can pass on the old-timer.

Najee Harris has been heavily deployed in his debut season. He leads all backs with 243.2 (No. 1) Weighted Opportunities and 72 (No. 1) Targets. This has led to 18.0 (No. 9) Fantasy Points per Game, but his efficiency on a per touch basis is poor. He totals a 25.5-percent (No. 33) Juke Rate and 2.70 (No. 31)  Yards Created per Touch. The good news is Harris won’t need efficiency to rack up points against an awful Vikings rush defense.

Najee Harris Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Death, taxes, and Diontae Johnson getting 10-plus targets. The only receiver immune to Big Ben has been rock solid, scoring at least 15 fantasy points in nine of 11 games. He’s hogging opportunity, with a 38.6-percent (No. 9) Air Yards Share and a 19.4-percent (No. 6) Hog Rate. Johnson finds himself across No. 115-ranked CB Bashaud Breeland, making him an elite play.

Chase Claypool is a victim of an aged quarterback. Big Ben is incapable of pushing the ball downfield to him, leading to a 54.2-percent (No. 100) Catch Rate. It’s been a rough season for the sophomore, scoring 15 fantasy points in only three games. He’ll draw No. 22-ranked CB Patrick Peterson, making Claypool nothing more than a prayer.

Chase Claypool Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Scoring 10 fantasy points in five of the last seven games, Pat Freiermuth is a streaming candidate tonight against a banged up Vikings defense.

Minnesota Vikings

Kirk Cousins has been taking advantage of defenses, finishing as a top 10 QB in five of the last seven games. He’s cutting up secondaries with a 72.4-percent (No. 4) True Completion Percentage. Captain Kirk is a good quarterback, and he’ll prove it again against an average Steelers secondary allowing 17.7 Fantasy Points per Game to quarterbacks.

Despite the running back situation in Minnesota being unclear, the fantasy situation is very clear. If Dalvin Cook plays, you play him. If he sits and you have Alexander Mattison, you’ll be slotting him in your lineup. Mattison averages 24.3 carries, 149.3 total yards, and 23.6 fantasy points in the three games without Cook. It’s a bell-cow role either way, we just have to see who gets the nod.

Alexander Mattison Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Justin Jefferson is improving on his mind-blowing rookie season, clocking in at 20.1 (No. 3) Fantasy Points per GameAdam Thielen had an early exit in last week’s contest, and it led to 14 targets for Jefferson. He already has an ultra-alpha 26.7-percent (No. 11) Target Share and 43.4-percent (No. 2) Air Yards Share. Now the touchdown-hog is unavailable, and Jefferson is going to the moon.

Also getting an immediate boost is K.J. Osborn. The early season flash in the pan saw 7 targets, caught 4 receptions, and scored along the way. Last week marked his fifth game this season of at least 6 targets. He draws No. 59-ranked CB Cameron Sutton, and is a deep flex play.

K.J. Osborn Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Like many tight ends, Tyler Conklin is inconsistent and unreliable. However, the absence of Adam Thielen opens up more opportunity. Last week, Conklin saw 9 targets and a near season high 91.8-percent Snap Share. He’s about as good as tight end streaming tight ends can be.

Cliff Notes

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Conclusion

Despite a win against a rival Ravens team, the Steelers are not a good team. They are a below average team with an above average record. I expect the Vikings to maintain control of this game and put the pressure on the Steelers offense. The spread is set at 3 points in favor of Minnesota. I wish the line were 2.5 points, but I am still confident in Minnesota to cover. This is a potential turnaround game at home in primetime, and I expect the home team to take care of business.

The point total is set at 43.5 points. The total has been going over for both teams lately, and both defenses are banged up. This feels like a trap total, especially at 66-percent of the public money. I am once again going to fade the public and call for the under to hit.

Prediction: Vikings 24-17