Steelers' Title Futures Dip With Ben Roethlisberger Injury
When does a team win its fourth straight game yet see its futures odds to win the Super Bowl and the AFC Championship Game get longer? When that club loses its Pro Bowl quarterback for an indefinite period of time.
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The team in question is the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were fortunate to escape a home upset bid by the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night. Pittsburgh became the first team this season to trail in regulation to the Chiefs and lost star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to shoulder and rib injuries early in the third quarter. The Steelers beat the Chiefs 16-13 in overtime to improve to 6-3, a game behind the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North.
Roethlisberger's rib injury is considered more serious than the shoulder problem. In fact, it's being called a potentially life-threatening injury. According to reports, Big Ben dislocated his top rib that protects the aorta, the largest artery in the body. If that rib were to somehow puncture the aorta, it could put Roethlisberger's life in jeopardy. Big Ben, who has 2,287 yards passing, 17 touchdowns and just four picks, is out indefinitely. He is 50/1 to win the NFL MVP award at Bovada.
The Steelers host the Ravens on Sunday night, the first of two games in the next three weeks in the NFL's most physical rivalry. Steelers backup QB Byron Leftwich will be making his first start since 2009. He hasn't won as a starter since 2006 while with Jacksonville. Leftwich was 7 of 14 for 73 yards after replacing Roethlisberger on Monday night.
To make matters worse, Pittsburgh will be without its best defensive player, safety Troy Polamalu, for the sixth straight game due to injury. Receiver Antonio Brown is iffy. Thus the Ravens are 3.5-point opening road favorites at the book. They come off scoring a franchise-record 55 points in a 35-point destruction of Oakland and have won two straight in Pittsburgh.
The Ravens are the -150 favorites at the book to win the AFC North, with Pittsburgh at +120. The Steelers dropped from 6/1 to win the AFC and 12/1 to win the Super Bowl to 8/1 and 16/1 after Monday's game and Big Ben's injury. If Roethlisberger can return by Week 14, the Steelers do close with three of their final four at home. Pittsburgh is 4-1 the past two seasons without Big Ben.
Other Weekend NFL Live Betting Games
*-Eagles at Redskins (-3.5, 43.5): It will be a rookie quarterback matchup on Sunday as two 3-6 teams look to get out of the NFC East cellar.
Philadelphia, which has dropped five straight to all but assure head coach Andy Reid won't be back in 2013, will start third-round pick Nick Foles. Michael Vick suffered a serious concussion in last week's loss to Dallas and is out indefinitely - some believe his time in Philly is done. Foles was 22 of 32 for 219 yards with a touchdown and an interception in relief of Vick against Dallas. It's too bad Vick is out considering Vick has won his past three starts versus the Redskins.
Of course none of those Washington teams had Robert Griffin III. But the 2011 Heisman winner has slowed down after an electric start. In Griffin's first four games, the Redskins were 2-2 and he completed better than 61 percent of his passes in all four while passing for at least 206 yards in each. As Washington has dropped four of five, RG3 has topped 200 yards twice and the past two games he failed to reach 60 percent completions.
Philadelphia has the worst ATS mark in the NFL this season at 1-7-1. The Eagles are also an NFL-worst 0-4 O/U in road games. The road team has covered in five of the past six meetings in this series.
*-Colts at Patriots (-9, 53.5): Games between Indianapolis and New England were always circled on the NFL schedule because it matched up Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, but now Brady gets his first look at Colts rookie star quarterback Andrew Luck on Sunday.
The Pats enter on a three-game winning streak and are averaging 37.0 points in that stretch. New England is the only team averaging more than 400 yards of offense (430.3) and also leads the NFL in scoring at 33.2 ppg. Brady is 10/1 to win the NFL MVP award. But the Pats defense is again very vulnerable against the pass, ranking No. 29 in allowing 285.3 yards per game.
Thus Luck could set an NFL record Sunday should he throw for 300 yards. He has four 300-yard passing games this season, tied with Manning (1998) for most by rookie all-time. Luck is the even-money favorite at the book to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. The Colts have won four straight and hold down the AFC's top wild-card spot. They are still 66/1 long shots at the book to win the Super Bowl.
*-Monday, Bears at 49ers (TBA): Monday night's potential NFC Championship Game preview between Chicago and San Francisco might be the "Backup Bowl" this week. Both Bears starting Jay Cutler and 49ers backup Alex Smith left their teams' games last week with concussions and both are highly in question to return Monday.
Chicago (7-2) was held to just six points and 249 yards in last week's seven-point home loss to another Super Bowl contender, the Houston Texans. Cutler didn't play in the second half of that one. Backup Jason Campbell was 11-for-19 for 94 yards in Cutler's place and likely will start against the Niners. A Chicago loss and Green Bay win at Detroit would have the Bears and Packers tied atop the NFC North. The Bears are still slight -110 favorites with the Packers at +110. But Green Bay already has won a game versus Chicago this season.
San Francisco (6-2-1) is the big -400 favorite to win the NFC West. The Niners enter off the first tie in the NFL in four years, 24-24 at home against St. Louis. Smith suffered a first-quarter concussion and was replaced by second-year player Colin Kaepernick. He finished 11 of 17 for 117 yards and ran eight times for 66 yards. Smith has started past 28 games for San Francisco, including both of last season's playoff games. But Kaepernick, the former Nevada star, could be in line for his first start. By comparison, the Bears' Campbell has 70 career starts.
The winner of Monday's game would have a huge head-to-head tiebreaker over the other for potential home-field advantage in the playoffs. The Niners are the NFC co-favorites with Green Bay at 13/4, while the Bears are 5/1.
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