Steelers vs. Bills: 3 best prop bets for NFL Wild Card Round

01/15/2024
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WELCOME TO THE PLAYOFFS!

For the fifth consecutive year, the Buffalo Bills are in the NFL playoffs, and their Wild Card Round game against the Pittsburgh Steelers was supposed to kick off at 1:00 pm on Sunday. This being Buffalo in January, there is winter weather wreaking havoc with the matchup scheduled for Orchard Park, and now the game has been rescheduled for 4:30 on Monday. The weather will still be a factor for the game but not nearly as severe. This was the right choice for the safety of all involved.

This article was originally written with the Sunday 1:00 weather in mind, but even with the rescheduling, only one prop was changed. Initially, there was a prop for the under on Josh Allen’s longest completion, which was inexplicably set at 33.5 yards in conditions that were going to include consistent winds of 25+ MPH and gusts up to 45 MPH.

Like a new blanket of untrodden snow, we start fresh for the playoffs.

First Things First

Here are a few rules to keep your betting a fun, enjoyable hobby.

  1. Never bet more than you can afford to lose.
  2. Don’t chase a bet.
  3. Don’t bet on what you don’t understand
  4. Check the other sportsbooks’ lines
  5. See Rule #1.

If you think you might have a gambling problem, please contact any of these agencies for help.

National Council on Problem Gambling: 1-800-522-4700.
Gambling Anonymous National Hotline: (888) GA-HELPS (888-424-3577)
Gambling Assistance Hotline: (800) 522-4700

Lastly, these are recommendations, not guarantees. Act accordingly.

For a thorough breakdown, read Uber Hansen’s Game Matchups Preview.

DVOA Matchup

Injury Reports

Be sure to check the inactives list prior to the game.

Weather

This is where the rubber meets the ice-covered road.

From the National Weather Service:

M.L.King Day
Snow showers likely, mainly before 11am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 19. Wind chill values as low as -5. Breezy, with a southwest wind 15 to 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

“Breezy” is not a concern to Allen’s howitzer.

To give you a better idea of the forecast, this graph is from the National Weather Service on expected precipitation and wind. The red arrow is the start of the game. Good chance of snow throughout the game, but the wind should be less of an obstacle.

Steelers vs. Bills: 5 keys to victory in the AFC Wild Card Round

Recommendations

Josh Allen Rushing Attempts

Book Line o u
FD 8.5 -130 -102
DK 8.5 -140 +110
MGM 8.5 -140 +110

Through the first 16 weeks of the season, Allen only had one game with double-digit rush attempts (Week 14 vs KC with 10). In the last two games of the season, Allen had his two highest number of attempts with 11 against New England and 15 versus Miami. That might be game plan specific, or it could be that we’ve reached the point in the season where Allen’s rushing is being dusted off and lifted out of the toolbox.

Over the last month, Pittsburgh has allowed 6.3 Y/A to QB runs that are not kneel downs. They are also now without TJ Watt, who is more known for his pass-rush abilities but is also a solid defender overall.

Recommendation: Josh Allen rushing attempts o8.5 -130 at FD, 0.5u

Najee Harris Rushing Attempts

Book Line o u
FD 16.5 -114 -114
DK 15.5 -166 +130
MGM 15.5 -130 -105

Harris has blown past 15.5 in the last three weeks while Jaylen Warren has maintained his average of 8-10 rush attempts, meaning Harris is getting more attempts and not just having a few weeks where the Steelers fed him over Warren. In the last two games, Harris has gotten more than 26 carries apiece.

If you want something to watch for with this bet in particular, pay attention to how Pittsburgh’s formations are an indicator of their play selection:

From Arjun Menon

From Weeks 10-18, if the Steelers are in shotgun, it’s a pass three out of four times. If they are under center, they are running eight out of ten times.

Whether it has to do with Mason Rudolph at QB or another change in offensive philosophy, Harris’ workload is up. With Rudolph as the starter for the last three weeks, Harris has gotten 19+ carries each game, which is a major uptick from the 13.1 attempts he’d had through the first 14 games. The poor weather conditions could push Harris’ final total north of 30 carries.

Recommendation: Najee Harris rushing attempts o15.5 -130 at MGM, 0.5u

Dalton Kincaid Receptions

Book Line o u
FD 3.5 -136 +102
DK 3.5 -125 -105
MGM 3.5 -120 -110

The Steelers have surrendered 8.7 yards/catch to tights over the last month, which ranks 25th. Their allowed completion percentage of 76.9% ranks 22nd over the same period, and their QB Rating Against is third worst (128.3).

With Watt out, the Steelers have lost their best pass rusher. His 10.3 Pass Rush Productivity score ranks seventh in the league for edge players with more than 50% pass rush snaps. Alex Highsmith is the next best pass rusher, and he ranks 13th on the season with 68 total pressures but many feel he is more a product of the attention paid to Watt than a dominant force in his own right.

Even if the wind and snow impact deep passing, it shouldn’t be heavy enough to interfere with Allen’s intermediate work where Kincaid thrives.

Recommendation: Dalton Kincaid receptions o3.5 -120 at MGM, 0.5u

You can find Chris on Twitter (@lowbuffa), getting dirty in #MafiaGardens, or watching football. Go Bills!

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