Ben Roethlisberger is Patrick Mahomes’ biggest MVP threat

Ben Roethlisberger is Patrick Mahomes’ biggest MVP threat

Every debate about the NFL’s elite starts with Patrick Mahomes. The Kansas City Chiefs are the league’s top power-rated team and Super Bowl favorites mostly due to Mahomes, who’s this year’s MVP and seems destined to become the greatest quarterback to ever play the game.

If he’s not sidelined by illness or injury, the only thing that can stop Mahomes is an elite defense.

So this is where the Pittsburgh Steelers enter the picture. The 10-0 Steelers, whose scheduled Thanksgiving night game against the COVID-compromised Baltimore Ravens was postponed until Sunday, fit the profile of a team capable of taking down the reigning champs. They have an experienced quarterback who can trade shots with Mahomes and a defense that can make him appear human and vulnerable. Pittsburgh ranks No. 1 in scoring defense at 17.4 ppg, and Ben Roethlisberger is putting up numbers — 24 touchdown passes and just five interceptions — that make him more than a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year.

“I think Ben looks fantastic, and he should be in the MVP conversation,” South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews said. “I do have the Steelers as the second-best team in the NFL.”

It’s a slim margin between the league’s top two teams. Andrews’ power ratings show the Chiefs as 1.5 points better than the Steelers. To earn the top seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, Pittsburgh might need to stay perfect or at least go 15-1.

Ben Roethlisberger
Ben RoethlisbergerAP

Kansas City (9-1) is a 3.5-point favorite Sunday at Tampa Bay and still must play at New Orleans in Week 15. As of today, the Saints look like the strongest team in the NFC.

Andrews has not posted a prop bet on the Steelers to finish 16-0 and scoffed at the idea, saying, “It’s almost impossible.”

The DraftKings price on the 16-0 prop is “No” -770 and “Yes” +520. At BetMGM, “Yes” is offered at +525.

Turkey Day Tidbits

Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys: No player in the NFL has made a better comeback than Alex Smith, who threw for 166 yards and a touchdown in Washington’s 20-9 victory over Cincinnati. Smith gives the Football Team some hope in a hopeless division. Suddenly, first place in the NFC East is on the line. The winner in this clash of clumsy 3-7 teams will pass Philadelphia (3-6-1) in the win column.

“The public will bet on Dallas for sure,” said John Murray, race and sports director at the Westgate SuperBook. “Obviously, the Washington offense is much better with Smith in there instead of Dwayne Haskins.”

While I bet on the Cowboys last week as 7-point underdogs in their 31-28 win at Minnesota, it’s tough to trust them to do it again, this time in the favorite’s role.

For those into Thanksgiving trends, Dallas is 1-8 ATS in its last nine games on Turkey Day.

Houston Texans at Detroit Lions: The first game of the day will draw the weakest wagering handle, partly due to the early kickoff but mostly because it’s a weak game.

The Texans are 2-0 against Jacksonville and 1-7 against all others, but they just upset New England and that should be enough to stir the betting public. It’s also easier to back Deshaun Watson as the better quarterback. Matthew Stafford, playing with a bum right thumb, was sacked five times in the Lions’ 20-0 loss at Carolina in Week 11. Detroit was without top receiver Kenny Golladay and rookie running back D’Andre Swift. Golladay has a chance to play in this one, but Swift is doubtful.

“I can guarantee you Thursday morning we’ll be loaded on Houston, which is playing a Lions team that just got shut out,” Murray said. “The public wanted nothing to do with the Texans last week, but the public spins like a top and goes from team to team.”

Detroit has won three of its last 16 Thanksgiving games. My tip: Sleep in and tune in for the fourth quarter.


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