Steelers-Vikings best bets: Wild-card hopefuls meet in Twin Cities

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The Pittsburgh Steelers got a big win in Week 13 and look to maintain their momentum when they visit a Minnesota Vikings team looking to recover from an embarrassing loss to the previously winless Lions.

Here's how we're betting Steelers-Vikings:

C Jackson Cowart: Vikings -3 (-115)

On the surface, it's hard to feel inspired betting either side in this one: The Vikings found a new way to blow a lead in last week's stunning loss to the Lions, while the Steelers are just one week removed from one of the biggest blowout losses of the season.

Dig a little deeper, though, and it becomes hard to argue these teams are on the equal footing this line suggests. Minnesota ranks 11th in DVOA despite a losing record and a rash of injuries, while Pittsburgh ranks 23rd and has posted the fourth-worst net yards per play (-0.7) in the league, sandwiched between the lowly Jaguars (-0.67) and Lions (-0.99).

It's easy to make the case that the Steelers are the NFL's worst team with a winning record and the Vikings are the best with a losing record. Bettors shouldn't let opposite performances in Week 13 scare them away from betting the better team in a clear get-right spot at home.

Alex Moretto: Vikings -3 (-115), under 43.5

There have been several times this season when finding a favorable bet for a prime-time game has been extraordinarily tough. That's not the case for this one, though, as I'm struggling to choose between the side and the total. Spoiler: I love both.

After the depleted Vikings lost to Detroit on Sunday courtesy of three missed two-point conversions, I was actively rooting for the Steelers to beat the Ravens despite not having a cent on the game. I got my wish, and the lookahead line came down. The result is an outstanding buy-low on the Vikings combined with a sell-high on a Pittsburgh team that left everything on the field against its bitter rivals just four days ago.

There's not a lot to like about this Steelers team, which was always going to save its best for a home game against the Ravens. Pittsburgh's offense is moving in mud - it's inconsistent through the air and can't create lanes for Najee Harris on the ground. The Vikings haven't played inspiring defense over the past few weeks, but they're finally getting healthy.

Patrick Peterson, Anthony Barr, and Eric Kendricks are set to return alongside Michael Pierce and Dalvin Tomlinson, two players who also just came back from injuries. The Vikings have yet to have all five on the field this season. With this unit back to full strength, Mike Zimmer can get creative with his blitzes and third-down defense - which is where Minnesota is at its very best - in a tantalizing matchup against one of the league's worst offenses.

As the Vikings get healthy on defense, they're trending the other way on offense. I doubt Dalvin Cook plays, while Adam Thielen and Christian Darrisaw certainly won't. But Alexander Mattison isn't much of a downgrade from Cook, and K.J. Osborn and Tyler Conklin continue to step up for Kirk Cousins. Cousins is playing impressively consistent football and won't have much trouble moving the ball and controlling the clock against an underwhelming Steelers defense. Needing a win to preserve their playoff hopes, the Vikings control this one on both sides of the ball from start to finish in a comfortable 24-13 win.

Matt Russell: Over 43.5 (-110)

I rarely bet a total, let alone make it my top play on a game. But since my colleagues are all over the Vikings, I'll bet my belief that neither team will do much to stop the other.

These squads are among the worst run-stopping teams in the league, and while the Steelers' offensive line is truly offensive, I consider Harris one of the top running backs in the league. More importantly, I think Ben Roethlisberger is better suited to climate-controlled environs at age 39. With Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, and Pat Freiermuth all bona fide weapons in the red zone, I expect Pittsburgh to score 20-plus points.

The low total might stem from the expectation that Cook and Thielen both miss this game, but I think the Vikings can move the ball through screens, rollouts, and extra protection for T.J. Watt. Both teams convert in the red zone and have kickers capable of scoring from distance, so I'll take the over on a total below the league average.

Steelers-Vikings best bets: Wild-card hopefuls meet in Twin Cities
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