The Week 13 NFL schedule includes a premier Sunday night matchup between the Chargers and Steelers. For this game and every other primetime contest, we’ll break down the sports betting lines and recommend where to place your bets at DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook.
Keep an eye on injury news right up until kick off since things can change quickly in the NFL. Any player listed as questionable may see limited action or not suit up at all if they don’t respond well in warm-ups.
Week 13 Sunday Night Football Betting Odds
Los Angeles Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers
NFL Week 13 Sunday Night Football Breakdown
The Steelers have been backsliding recently, barely coming back for a win in Jacksonville before falling in Denver last week. Yet this is a completely different team at home.
Ben Roethlisberger is averaging 314.8 passing YPG with 30 TDs over his last 12 home games. Plus, he owns a career 97.9 passer rating with 107 passing TDs over 59 night games.
There is plenty to speculate on behind the scenes when it comes to the Steelers. Roethlisberger publicly called out star WR Antonio Brown after “AB” seemed partially responsible for both of his interceptions in Denver.
He praised JuJu Smith-Schuster for carrying the load with 189 yards and a TD in that same game, which could be construed as another shot at Brown.
Yet Brown and Big Ben are often making headlines, and usually it only leads to AB receiving the “squeaky wheel” treatment, i.e. seeing more targets in an effort to placate the diva receiver.
Since Smith-Schuster moved outside (instead of the slot) to burn the Broncos, we don’t know which WR is more likely to capitalize on the better matchup this Sunday. The Chargers have a capable RCB in Casey Heyward, but are starting UDFA Mike Davis at LCB.
For what it’s worth, the Chargers rank first in DVOA pass defense against throws targeting the left side of the field and first in short passes as well.
Steelers new featured TE Vance McDonald has been limited by a hip this week, but should be ready to play. It’s worth noting the Chargers lead the NFL in DVOA pass defense against opposing TEs this season.
The Chargers defense has sprung leaks with DT Corey Liuget (quad), plus LBs Denzel Perryman (knee), and Kyzir White (knee) on I.R.
James Conner is also due for positive regression after the Steelers uncharacteristically fell behind their last two games. The Chargers have allowed the fourth-most receiving YPG (61.8) to opposing backs this season and coughed up 136.5 rushing YPG over their last 4 games.
Incredibly, the Chargers put their stud RB at risk in a blowout win over the Cardinals and Melvin Gordon suffered a multi-week injury (sprained MCL) that could cost him the season.
While RBs “don’t matter in the NFL” they do in fact, when they’re as talented and versatile as Gordon. He’s accounted for 22.6% of scrimmage yards and 14-of-36 TDs produced by the Chargers this year.
Austin Ekeler is expected to step in, but at 5-foot-8, 195 pounds, doesn’t profile as an inside runner. Rookie Justin Jackson (6-0, 199 pounds) should mix in on early downs, but Pittsburgh ranks 12th in DVOA rush defense and seventh against opposing RBs in the passing game.
Ekeler is a volume-based value play to consider with better prospects in PPR formats. Jackson is worth a dart throw as a touchdown-or-bust option and could be worth streaming for desperate seasonal fantasy players.
Philip Rivers has thrived in a low-volume passing attack thanks to the respect generated by Melvin Gordon. While he’s been lights out (124.6 passer rating) at home, Rivers is less impressive with a 64.5% completion rate and 99.9 passer rating, as the Chargers are 0-3 on the road this season. Over the course of his career, he’s taken 81 sacks while averaging a modest 244.2 passing YPG at an average of 7.6 YPA over 42 primetime games.
Pittsburgh blitzes at the sixth-highest rate in the NFL and Rivers has been good against the blitz. We should expect heavy volume for slot-maven Keenan Allen and Ekeler as the best means to beat that blitz.
Slot receivers have repeatedly torched the Steelers this season and Allen has snared 22-of-28 targets with a TD in 3 straight games. He’s the most confident DFS play on DraftKings from this game.
Tyrell Williams (quad) will rotate with Mike Williams on the perimeter if healthy. Tyrell wasn’t targeted on 9 snaps as he tried to play through the injury last Sunday. While Mike produce 2 TDs against the weak Cardinals defense, he’s the Chargers WR most likely to draw Steelers top CB Joe Haden.
Antonio Gates has shown some gas in the tank lately and has a chance to produce against a Steelers team that ranks 29th in DVOA pass defense against opposing TEs.
NFL Week 13 Picks
The Chargers are fourth in yards per drive and seventh in drive success rate (DSR), but much of that success had to do with Gordon’s average of 4.1 YPC and 8.8 yards per reception.
The Steelers offense is trending up, and now leads the NFL in TD/FG ratio once they get into the red zone.
Defensively, Pittsburgh yields the fifth-fewest yards per drive (28.31) and is forcing the second-most punts per drive. The Steelers are holding opponents to 3.9 YPC and have only allowed 2 rushing TDs at home this season.
Rivers is having a great year, but based on the likelihood the Chargers become one-dimensional with Gordon out, we’re taking the Steelers (-3) to win big at home. After all, Pittsburgh demolished Carolina, 52-21, the last time the Steelers hosted a primetime game.
Bets are split down the middle, but the sharps are on Pittsburgh with almost 70% of money on that side of the line. Despite that trend, the line moved down 0.5 in favor of Pittsburgh and that makes the Steelers and even safer bet.
The Chargers play at the lowest pace in the NFL, while the Steelers are 13th in total pace. The Chargers are 14th in neutral situation pace, so perhaps they’ll speed it up if they fall behind early.
Only one game at Heinz Field this season has gone below 51 combined points: A black-and-blue clash with the Ravens that produced 40 points with the Steelers scoring a season-low 14.
We’re taking the Over (51.5) and the public agrees with 75% of bets and 90% of money on that side of the line.