NFL upset of the week: Lions to pick up 1st win in Pittsburgh
Last week was chaotic for underdogs. It's possible we see a similar script in Week 10 with seven games lined above a full touchdown.
We've got one game in our sights that could shock the football world.
The place to start here is the schedule. The Steelers are coming off their 19th-straight Monday Night Football victory at home, winning a game that ended up being closer than expected given Pittsburgh's halftime lead. While they stay home for the short week, it's still a quick turnaround from prime time to a game on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Lions come off a much-needed bye week for a team that was pretty beat up physically and emotionally. Detroit got run over by the Eagles before the week off but has had some valiant, tear-jerking efforts against top teams in the Rams, Ravens, and Packers.
As we know, the Lions and their coach still care, so a couple of weeks to sit on their 0-8 start is more likely to produce motivation rather than the team quitting. Detroit's effort against the Rams to manufacture extra possessions showed me that they're willing to come into a game with a plan to do more than just line up and play. Having an extra week for the coaching staff to prepare should provide an opportunity to get a leg up on Pittsburgh.
Lions offense vs. Steelers defense
Getting healthy in the trenches is critical for the Lions' success since their skill position weapons are in the bottom end of the league talent-wise. Even with center Frank Ragnow out for the rest of the season, Detroit's offensive line becomes a strength with Taylor Decker returning at left tackle and rookie Penei Sewell moving to right tackle. That is a big deal with T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, and Co. rushing Jared Goff.
Justin Fields was able to test the Steelers' secondary in the second half on Monday after the NFL community was concerned with his readiness for a road test. The market doesn't like Goff all that much, either, but with added protection, he could be in line for a better game than most think.
Lions defense vs. Steelers offense
Although teams have run heavily on the Lions as they preserve late leads, Detroit only allows 4.3 yards per carry, which is actually less than the Steelers allow to their opponents. As expected, Najee Harris is being frustrated behind the Steelers' offensive line. Harris has shown flashes of brilliance, but he has only topped 4.1 yards per carry in one game this season.
The Lions' issue on defense has been that they are being dominated by opposing quarterbacks, allowing the best average quarterback rating in the NFL (112.7). However, the two times they've played sub-par offenses, they've held Fields and Jalen Hurts to quarterback ratings less than 90.
For all his career accolades, Ben Roethlisberger is a below-average quarterback at this point. He's 26th in net yards per attempt, nestled in between Tua Tagovailoa and Sam Darnold.
Even worse, while Detroit gets healthier this week, the Steelers appear to be without Chase Claypool. Pittsburgh's offense showed how inept it is without a healthy Claypool when he was banged up at the end of last season and when he missed the Week 4 loss at Green Bay.
The Steelers dodged a brutal second-half collapse to the Bears after Claypool had to leave the game. They pulled out the win, but Pittsburgh is 54-70-1 under Mike Tomlin when favored by more than a field goal, including 0-6 this season with three outright losses.
If I love the Lions to stay within the spread on Sunday, I have to at least like their chances relative to the moneyline at a big payout of +330. Since we're still flush with cash - up +7.9 units on our upset of the week picks - let's take a shot with Detroit to get its first win of the season in Pittsburgh.
Pick: Lions +330
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there’s a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.
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