George Pickens Odds and TNF Props: Pickens Salvages Ugly Prime-Time Matchup

This is shaping up to be an ugly game on Thursday Night Football as the Patriots and Steelers could struggle to rack up points. However, there could be a shining beacon in the form of Pittsburgh receiver George Pickens.

Dec 7, 2023 • 18:04 ET • 4 min read
George Pickens Pittsburgh Steelers NFL
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In what can only be described as a cursed primetime football game, the New England Patriots are visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers in a battle of backup quarterbacks. Despite the potential ugliness of this game, the NFL odds have the Steelers as six-point favorites.

The difference in this one is the playmakers the Steelers have with taking the field, something Bill Belichick’s team has been in search of all season. While he hasn’t been consistent, George Pickens has the talent to be the biggest game-changer in what will likely be a defensive stalemate.

You can see how I’m betting on the Steelers wide receiver as we dive into the TNF odds in my free NFL picks below.

For more TNF coverage, check our Patriots vs. Steelers predictions and out favorite TNF props to go along with this spotlight on George Pickens odds.

George Pickens TNF prop picks

Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.

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George Pickens TNF prop pick

Over 39.5 receiving yards (-110)

Watching Bailey Zappe take the field against Mitchell Trubisky isn’t how anybody drew this Thursday Night Football game going several months ago, and seeing the game total set at 30 probably isn’t inspiring any confidence for the offense to do much damage.

However, George Pickens is the most explosive athlete on offense taking the field and between his ability to win vertically and in contested catch situations, Trubisky will likely lean on him to try and stress this underrated Patriots defense.

In their two seasons together, Trubisky has thrown at least one pass in 10 games with Pickens playing. In 2022, when Pickens was a rookie, Trubisky targeted him 24 times and it resulted in 12 receptions for 227 yards

This season, they’ve taken the field together in losses to the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and last week against the Arizona Cardinals. In those three outings, Pickens was targeted seven times by Trubisky and caught two passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. 

That may not seem like a lot, but Trubisky has only thrown 229 passes in two seasons with Pittsburgh for 1,525 yards and the bulk came early in Pickens' rookie season. This year when on the field, 28.2% of his passing yards have gone to Pickens. For context, that’s only slightly lower than when Pickett is in the game, with 32.4% of his passing yards going to Pickens.

This is also a Patriots defense that has been leaky against the pass and the fact that they’ve been dominant against the run this season will likely force Steelers play-caller Mike Sullivan to lean a little more on the passing game — especially with Najee Harris banged up.

The Patriots are on polar opposite ends when it comes to their rush vs. pass defense. They rank first in the NFL in EPA per rush on defense, but 28th in EPA per dropback. They’re holding teams to the fourth-lowest rushing yards per game, 88.7, and the lowest yards per carry, 3.2.

With that in mind, Pittsburgh could implement a game plan to go after their secondary. They’re allowing 221.8 passing yards per game and have struggled with more talented receivers this season. 

In 12 games, New England has allowed at least 40 receiving yards to 26 different players, including three in last week’s 6-0 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Even when they’re shutting teams out of the end zone, they’re giving up yards through the air.

This season, all three of their starting cornerbacks — JC Jackson, Jonathan Jones, and Myles Bryant — have allowed a QB rating over 100 when targeted and each has given up over 330 receiving yards this season. It’s been one of the worst cornerback trios in the league and an inconsistent pass rush, that’s dearly missed Matt Judon, hasn’t helped its case.

So while Trubisky and Pickens haven’t played together a ton, the duo has a chance to push this secondary to its limit and take advantage of the mismatch in size. Pickens, whose body control and catch radius make him a 50/50 ball nightmare, is 6-foot-3. All three Patriots starting cornerbacks came in under 5-foot-10 officially at the NFL Scouting Combine (it’s a conspiracy how Jackson is listed at 6-foot-1).

In his two seasons in Pittsburgh, the former Georgia star is averaging 53.4 receiving yards per game and 16.1 yards per reception. Pickens is one of the best young big-play receivers in the game and in 29 games with the Steelers, he’s gone Over 39.5 receiving yards 16 times.

Prop: Over 39.5 receiving yards (-110 at bet365)

George Pickens TNF same-game parlay

George Pickens Over 39.5 receiving yards

George Pickens Over 3.5 receptions

Steelers -6.5

50% boost available

Between his size, speed, and ability to win jump balls, Pickens will have the chance to make big plays against this struggling New England defense. 

As a result, he should see a decent share of targets, especially with Diontae Johnson being the focus of the media recently over some less-than-stellar moments on the field. In his career, Pickens has had 12 games with at least four receptions.

Beyond the Pickens advantage, the Steelers are in better shape heading into this game with Trubisky than New England is with Zappe. Pittsburgh still has one of the better defenses in the league led by TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith, who have a combined 20 sacks this season and can beat up on an offensive line that’s allowed 30.

The Steelers are ninth in EPA per play on defense, seventh in EPA per dropback, and 14th in EPA per rush. They’re also taking on a Patriots team that’s 30th in EPA per play on offense, 31st in EPA per dropback, and 18th in EPA per rush.

A handful of New England’s starting offensive players are on the injury report this week too, with Demario Douglas and Rhamondre Stevenson — their leading receiver and rusher — having not practiced on Monday or Tuesday. 

It’s going to be an ugly game that Pittsburgh, who is 7-5 ATS this season, is built to win by more than a touchdown against a Patriots team that’s 2-10 against the spread this season.

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

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