Steelers vs Vikings Preview & Free Pick [December 9th 2021]

Pittsburgh (6-5) at Minnesota (5-7)
When: Thursday, December 9th 2021
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium,
Minneapolis, MN
Time: 8:20 ET | TV: FOX
Opening Odds: Minnesota -3.5/45.5

We have a very critical interconference matchup Thursday night in Minneapolis as the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Minnesota Vikings with both teams in desperate need of a win. Neither team is going to win their respective North Divisions but the wild card is still a possibility. However, a loss tonight – and one team will barring a tie – will make it almost impossible. The Steelers temporarily saved their season last week with a 20-19 home win over the Baltimore Ravens as 4-point underdogs. At 6-5-1, the Steelers are currently on the outside looking in with five games left in the season. Thanks to that home tie last month with 1-10-1 Detroit, even a win against the Vikings would leave Pittsburgh trailing the Chargers, Bengals and Bills in the wild-card standings. A loss would have ended any realistic hopes of making the playoffs, because their last four games are against teams with records of at least .500.


Speaking of the Lions. The Vikings were their first victims of the season last Sunday when Jared Goff rallied Detroit to a 29-27 win to leave Minnesota searching for answers. The loss dropped the Vikings one game behind the 49ers in the NFC wild card race and they don’t own the tiebreaker with San Francisco because of their head-to-head meeting two weeks ago. If Minnesota can’t make the postseason, it will surely spell the end for head coach Mike Zimmer who was nearly fired after a 7-9 season a year ago. The all-time series between the teams is tied 9-9, which includes Pittsburgh’s 16-6 victory in Super Bowl IX in New Orleans. The Steelers haven’t been to Minnesota since 2013, so this will be their first look at the beautiful US Bank Stadium.

Last week was the firs time the Ravens were favored in Pittsburgh in a game that Ben Roethlisberger started, but that didn’t seem to matter to the Steelers. Pittsburgh was fortunate that Baltimore tried for a two-point conversion and win in the final seconds, but tight end Mark Andrews bobbled a pass and it was incomplete. Roethlisberger threw for 236 yards and two scores and didn’t turn the ball over. Diontae Johnson finished with eight catches for 105 yards and two scores. Pittsburgh’s defense stepped up big time and sacked the mobile Lamar Jackson seven times. Look for the Steelers to continue having success with their pass rush against the Vikings, who have the less mobile Kirk Cousins under center. Star linebacker TJ Watt was put on the COVID list early last week but was activated in time to record 3.5 sacks on Sunday. Starting cornerback Joe Haden missed a third straight game with a foot injury.

The Vikings nearly lost to the winless Detroit Lions in Week 5 but prevailed on a 54-yard field goal as time expired. On Sunday, the Vikings did lose to the Lions in an absolutely crushing blow to Minnesota’s postseason chances. Kirk Cousins threw for 340 yards and two scores with Justin Jefferson catching 11 balls for 182 yards and a TD. With top running back Dalvin Cook out injured, Alexander Mattison rushed for 90 yards and a score. Two of the Vikings’ top linebackers, Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, also missed the game. Pro Bowl receiver Adam Thielen left with a sprained ankle and has been ruled out for Thursday. Defense has been a problem for Minnesota. They allowed Goff to throw for 296 yards and three touchdowns last week. On 12 pass plays, the Vikings mustered real pressure on Goff just once.

Last Thursday I had Dallas as a top play winner over New Orleans. The game this Thursday is one that I would rather stay away from. I’m taking the points with the Steelers because this Minnesota team is a mess right now with a coach who is on his way out. The Vikings defense is terrible and Pittsburgh should have some success running the ball.

Pick: Steelers +3.5
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