Are the Steelers a safe bet against Jets in Week 16?

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 14: David DeCastro /

FanSided is partnering with The Action Network to bring you expert sports betting information and analysis.

Steelers at Jets Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Steelers -3.5
  • Over/Under: 37.5
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

The Steelers and Jets haven’t been consistent offensively all season, but their defenses stand out. With that in mind, this total opened at 38.5 and is down to 37.5 as of Thursday, with more than 80% of the betting tickets on the under. Will bettors see an old school defensive struggle?

Our experts preview the matchup, featuring matchup analysis, projected odds and a pick.

Steelers-Jets Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Steelers

The Steelers are finally trending toward being healthy after JuJu Smith-Schuster (foot) was upgraded to a full practice on Thursday. Vance McDonald (concussion) has also been practicing in full this week. Joe Haden (foot) was downgraded to a DNP on Thursday with a foot injury, so he’ll be worth monitoring as the week progresses.

I’m thankful the Jets won’t be making the playoffs because their injury report has been abysmal to look at every week. It’s another week with more than 10 names on it, but Demaryius Thomas (hamstring/knee) and offensive lineman Tom Compton (calf) are the only ones who haven’t practiced.

Robby Anderson was a mid-week addition on Thursday, sitting out due to an illness. This season, nearly everyone listed as limited has suited up. Justin Bailey

Note: Info as of Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.

Biggest Mismatch

Steelers Defense vs. Jets Offense

The Jets are scoring only 20.4 points per game in Sam Darnold’s starts and rank a lowly 30th in weighted offensive DVOA (Football Outsiders’ schedule-adjusted efficiency metric that weights recent games more heavily).

The Steelers, meanwhile, are allowing just 18.5 points per game and rank second in weighted defensive DVOA. They’re also the only defense in the league to rank top-five vs. both the run (third) and pass (fifth).

The outstanding play of outside linebacker T.J. Watt and Co. has helped head coach Mike Tomlin offset his banged up offense that’s now being led by third-string quarterback Devlin “Duck” Hodges. This combination has led to an 11-3 under mark for the Steelers, including 6-0 over their past six games.

Don’t be surprised if that trend continues, as Tomlin is the most profitable road under coach among the 125 head coaches in our Bet Labs database, going under the total at a 60-42 (58.8%) clip.

A Le’Veon Bell “revenge game” is a better bet to happen at the bowling alley than against this Steeler defense. — Chris Raybon

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Steelers -2
  • Projected Total: 37.5

The Steelers were another devastating loss last week.

The main reason I backed them was due to their strong defense and the Bills being prone to the running game. It was the perfect matchup to hide Hodges. And sure enough, the Steelers fell behind, forcing them to lean on Hodges to get back into the game — but he fell flat.

The Jets defense could have the advantage in this one as they’re stout against the run, which could force the Steelers to have Hodges drop back to pass more. It’s going to be a low scoring game, as seen by the total, which should make the key number of +3 on the Jets even more valuable to have.

This matchup also has the biggest disparity in fumble recovery luck I’ve seen this season with the Steelers recovering 4.7 more fumbles than would be expected and the Jets recovering 2.4 fewer fumbles than expected for a +7.1 net rating in favor of the Jets.

The theory behind fumble recoveries is that they’re purely random and expected to regress to league average. If both teams were to recover fumbles at a league-average rate going forward, it would imply there’s some hidden value on the Jets.

With the Jets having so many players on the injury report, I’ll wait until we get more clarity there before pulling the trigger here. Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Mike Randle: Under 37.5

The Steelers’ offensive struggles have fortunately coincided with an improving defense that now rates among the league’s best. They rank third among all teams in defensive DVOA, including third-best against the run, and should have their way with a Jets offensive line that ranks among the bottom of the league in run blocking (25th) and pass blocking (30th).

Meanwhile, the most reliable unit for the Jets has been their run-blocking defense, which rates second-best overall in the league. This is a concern for a Steelers offense that will want to limit passing attempts for its third-stringer-turned-starter Hodges. In the Steelers’ last two wins, Hodges averaged just 20 attempts per game. In their 17-10 home loss to Buffalo, Hodges attempted 38 passes and threw four interceptions.

Both the Jets (11th-slowest) and Steelers (fifth-slowest) prefer a slow, methodical pace. Combining their offensive limitations with strong defenses, as well as Tomlin’s betting trend as outlined by Raybon above, I’m siding with the under, with the first team to 20 points as the likely victor.

Randle is 238-231-5 (50.7%%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.