Something's got to give on Sunday Night Football in Week 3.
Either the Pittsburgh Steelers snap out of their offensive funk that has plagued them for two weeks or the Las Vegas Raiders figure it out on defense — and the spread, based on the current SNF odds, is leaning toward the latter.
Las Vegas is a slight betting favorite in its home opener, with Pittsburgh hitting the road on a short week after an ugly win on Monday night.
However, the Raiders are coming off a 38-10 pantsing in Buffalo where they looked terrible on both sides of the ball. The Steelers, on the other hand, edged the rival Browns thanks to outstanding play from the defense. The stop unit bailed out the scoring attack in a dreadful day for Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who’s under fire for his playbook ranking at the bottom of the league.
Sounds like a great game, right? Well, that’s why we have sports betting and there’s no better setting than Sin City. I break down the NFL odds for Sunday Night Football and give my best NFL picks for the Steelers at Raiders on September 24.
Steelers vs Raiders odds
Steelers vs Raiders predictions
If you read my Week 3 NFL picks and predictions column, you’ll see I’m on the Pittsburgh Steelers +2.5. That bet has a lot to do with the Los Angeles Raiders defense just not being on the same level as Pittsburgh’s past two opponents — the 49ers and Browns.
Dovetailing into that wager is an optimistic outlook for underused tight end Pat Freiermuth's odds in Week 3. Through two games, Freiermuth has a total of two catches on five targets for just five yards, albeit he did leave early into Week 1 with a chest injury.
This lack of action is a notable decline from his output in 2022 when Freiermuth finished second on the team in targets and receptions while hauling in the third most receiving yards.
In true tight-end fashion, Freiermuth downplayed his first two games and gave the cookie-cutter “whatever the team needs” answer when pressed by the media. He also came to the defense of maligned offensive coordinator Matt Canada and has a chance to back his OC up on the field against this Raiders defense.
Las Vegas has been playing a very soft shell look for the first two games, dropping into deep coverage and giving up shorter passes underneath. That’s allowed rival tight ends to thrive against the Silver and Black. In Week 1, the Broncos TEs caught a collective seven passes for 56 yards and the Bills’ talented tight end combo reeled in eight catches for 53 yards.
Altogether, Las Vegas has allowed 15 receptions on 18 targets to TEs for 109 yards – 10th most in the NFL. The Steelers' last two opponents — Cleveland and San Francisco — have watched rival tight ends catch just 10 balls combined for a collective 53 yards.
Freiermuth had success against the Raiders last season, reeling in seven of eight targets for 66 yards on Xmas Eve. He obviously played Under his receiving props in the first two games of 2023, including yardage totals of 36.5 O/U.
Books have parked his receiving yards prop for Week 3 at 34.5 (Over -114). His player projections are all north of that total with a consensus around 37 yards and a ceiling closer to 40.
Given the defense he’s facing, the offense wanting to kickstart Kenny Pickett, Diontae Johnson’s injury, and the amount of time Pittsburgh should have with the football, there is solid value on Freiermuth to amass at least 35 yards receiving on Sunday Night Football.
My best bet: Pat Freiermuth Over 34.5 receiving yards (-114 at FanDuel)
Picks made at time of writing may not reflect live odds.
Not intended for use in MA.
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Steelers vs Raiders same-game parlay
Pat Freiermuth Over 34.5 receiving yards
Pittsburgh Steelers +2.5
Jakobi Meyers Under 53.5 receiving yards
Tight ends have been busy underneath against a Raiders defense protecting against the deep ball, and Freiermuth had seven grabs against Vegas last December.
The Raiders’ soft defense is a huge change in competition for the Steelers, and Pittsburgh’s pass rush will go to work on the other side of the ball.
Meyers' projections all sit well short of his total, with models pegging the Raiders WR for just north of 40 yards. Las Vegas won’t have the football much and QB Jimmy Garoppolo won’t have as much time in pocket for passing plays to develop.
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Steelers vs Raiders spread and Over/Under analysis
The look-ahead lines set in the summer initially had Pittsburgh as a 1-point road favorite for this trip to Vegas. However, after getting rolled by San Francisco in Week 1 and escaping with a close win at home on Monday, bookies opened this game between PK and Raiders -1, and it quickly jumped to as high as -2.5.
Maybe this is an overreaction and recency bias playing into that early movement, but bettors do not like the Steelers after what they watched on Monday Night Football. Pittsburgh struggled to move the chains with just nine total first downs and a 4-for-14 rate on third down spots.
Chants of “Fire Canada” rained down from the Steele City faithful as Kenny Pickett and the offense averaged just 4.8 yards per play, failed to get inside the Cleveland red zone, and turned the ball over twice. But thanks to T.J. Watt and the defense, the Black and Yellow somehow walked away with a 26-22 victory as home underdogs.
Yes, Pittsburgh’s offense sits at the bottom of the toilet in terms of just about every stat possible – basic and advanced – but the Steelers have also taken on two of the stingiest stop units in the league, in San Francisco and Cleveland (which rank No. 2 and No. 3 in EPA allowed per play). Las Vegas, on the other hand, ranks… all the way down… at 31st in that metric.
Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has implemented the jelly donut of schemes, with a soft gooey middle. Las Vegas is dropping deep coverage and letting foes pick apart the interior with shorter strikes. It’s limited home run plays but has allowed foes to creep downfield and chew up clock, with the Raiders stop unit playing an average of more than 36 minutes through two weeks.
One of only two defenses logging more TV time just so happens to be showing up at Allegiant Stadium this week. The Steelers stop unit was on the field for 36:25 on Monday night, leaving those legs feeling heavy on a short week. Also working against Pittsburgh are injuries to stalwarts Cam Heyward and star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
But as long as T.J. Watt is out there, Pittsburgh has a chance. The game-wrecking linebacker scooped up a fumble and ran it in for the go-ahead score against the Browns and has four sacks and two forced fumbles along with two fumble recoveries to kickoff of 2023.
Watt and the defense take on a Vegas offensive line that has kept Garoppolo cool, with the lowest pressure rate faced through the opening contests (7.4%). He’s yet to be sacked but that lack of pressure hasn’t exactly resulted in positive results, especially with the offense seeing limited time with the football (19:56 of TOP in Week 2).
Vegas ranks 24th in Offensive DVOA and is using a methodical pace when it does finally get the ball, sitting fifth slowest in terms of seconds per play and running the lowest no-huddle rate in the land. The Raiders managed just 10 points on nine drives in Week 2 and the Steelers defense looked much sharper Monday, finishing Week 2 ranked No. 4 in EPA allowed per play.
This Over/Under total opened at 44 points and was quickly bet down to 43 points across the industry. Covers Consensus shows 55% of picks on the Over.
Steelers vs Raiders betting trend to know
Pat Freiermuth wrangled in seven of eight targets for 66 yards against the Las Vegas Raiders last season. Find more NFL betting trends for Steelers vs. Raiders.
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Steelers vs Raiders game info
|Location:||Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV|
|Date:||Sunday, September 24, 2023|
|Kickoff:||8:20 p.m. ET|
|Opening odds:||Raiders +1, 44|
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