Coming off one of their worst losses in recent memory, the Pittsburgh Steelers hope the return of running back Le’Veon Bell will be enough to get back on track when they host the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night. Pittsburgh looked every bit the Super Bowl contender it was expected to be in a pair of impressive wins to open the season before getting steamrolled by rookie Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles 34-3.
“We lost just about every aspect of that one. It was a poor performance by us, and I mean all of us,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said after his team absorbed its worst defeat since a 31-point drubbing in 1989. “It starts with me. They outcoached us. They outplayed us. They were better fundamentally.” Bell, suspended for the first three games for violating the league’s policy on substance abuse, is expected to see a heavy workload despite the success of backup DeAngelo Williams through the first two games. Kansas City is coming off its best performance of the young season, forcing eight turnovers and intercepting six passes in a 24-3 rout of the New York Jets. The Chiefs halted a three-game losing streak in the series with a 23-13 home win over Pittsburgh in October 2015.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC.
LINE HISTORY: The point spread for this one hit the betting board with the Pittsburgh Steelers pegged as five-point home favorites. On Monday afternoon the line jumped up to -6 before action on the Chiefs began to drag the number back down to the current number of -4.5.
The total began the week at 47.5 and was perfectly stable until it was dropped by 1/2 point to 47 on Saturday morning. Check out the complete line history here.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Chiefs (-3.5) – Steelers (-4) + home field (-3) = Steelers -3.5
Chiefs – RB J. Charles (Prob Sun, Knee), OL L. Duvernay-Tardif (Prob Sun, Ankle), LB T. Hali (Ques Sun, Undisclosed), DB M. Peters (Ques Sun, Illness), LB S. Barrington (Ques Sun, Hamstring), OL P. Ehinger (Ques Sun, Concussion), DB P. Gaines (Ques Sun, Knee), OL J. Reid (Out Sun, Ankle), RB C. West (Out Sun, Ankle), QB T. Bray (Out indefinitely, Back), FB T. Millard (I-R, Knee), LB J. Houston (Elig Week 8, Knee), LB J. Mauga (I-R, Shoulder).
Steelers – LB L. Timmons (Prob Sun, Shin), S S. Davis (Ques Sun, Back), C B. Finney (Ques Sun, Finger), LB J. Jones (Ques Sun, Ankle), FB R. Nix (Out Sun, Back), C C. Wallace (Out Sun, Knee), G R. Foster (Out Sun, Chest), S R. Golden (Out Sun, Hamstring), WR E. Rogers (Out Sun, Toe), LB R. Shazier (Out Sun, Knee), CB S. Golson (Early Nov, Foot), WR M. Bryant (out for season, Suspension), LB B. Dupree (Elig Week 9, Abdominal), G C. Manhart (I-R, Undisclosed), QB B. Gradkowski (I-R, Hamstring), TE L. Green (Elig Week 7, Ankle), T J. Hawkins (I-R, Shoulder), C V. Ume-Ezeoke (I-R, Undisclosed).
WEATHER REPORT: The forecast for Sunday night in Pittsburgh is not great. There is a 40 percent chance of rain (should clear off around halftime), with temperatures in the 50’s and humidity levels between 70 and 80 percent. Wind should not be a factor at only 2-3 mph.
WHAT SHARPS SAY: “Similar to last Sunday night the prime time matchup entails much of the unknown. Last week Brian Hoyer got his first start as a Bear which showcased his rust in the first half. This week key starters in Le’Veon Bell and Jamaal Charles make their return to the field. Adding to the difficulty of capping this matchup are the past two seasons low-scoring split games. Find better value with defined teams and roles for week four of the NFL season.” – Covers Expert Zack Cimini.
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “There is no more heavily bet team in the NFL than the Pittsburgh Steelers for the first three weeks of the season. But coming off a blowout loss, as they did last week to the Philadelphia Eagles, suddenly we’ve seen that flood of public action on Pittsburgh sort of slow down to a trickle. Here’s a line that opened 5.5, we thought would go to 6 right away with public action, yet it’s gone the other way. The public hasn’t jumped all over Pittsburgh thus far, and the sharp guys took the early 5.5 number, and that line’s dropped a full point from the opener.” – Matthew Holt, vice president of business development for CG Technology in Las Vegas.
ABOUT THE CHIEFS (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS, 1-2 O/U): Cornerback Marcus Peters leads the league in interceptions with four after picking off two passes for the second straight week, but his status is in question after he missed practice Wednesday and Thursday while dealing with the flu. Fellow starting cornerback Phillip Gaines also sat out practice Thursday due to a sore knee while running back Jamaal Charles, who has yet to see the field while recovering from a torn ACL in his knee sustained last season, was listed as a limited participant. Spencer Ware has filled in capably as the lead back, averaging 4.9 yards per carry, while quarterback Alex Smith is completing 66.9 percent of his passes. Kansas City’s defense is permitting an average of 16.3 points.
ABOUT THE STEELERS (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS, 1-2 O/U): With Williams rushing for 237 yards over the first two games, there was the notion that Bell would be worked into a rotation in the backfield, but Tomlin doused that idea. “We’ll see how sharp he is physically once we get him out on the practice field and kind of go from there but rest assured, you’re going to see Le’Veon Bell and probably a lot of him on Sunday,” Tomlin said. Ben Roethlisberger threw a season-high six touchdown passes through the first two weeks but was held without one in last week’s loss, although he did connect with Antonio Brown on 12 catches for 140 yards. Pittsburgh has registered one sack, its lowest total through three games since it became an official stat in 1982.
* Chiefs are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight up win.
* Steelers are 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 games in October.
* Under is 6-1 in Chiefs’ last 7 games in October.
* Under is 6-1 in Steelers’ last 7 games overall.
* Home team is 6-1 ATS in their last 7 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is giving a bit of an edge to the home favorite Steelers in this Sunday night matchup with 54 percent of the picks. As for the total, 52 percent of the wagers are on the Over. View full consensus data here.