bet365 Thursday Night Football Preview: Patriots vs. Steelers (Dec. 7)

An under bettor’s dream arrives on Thursday Night Football this week in a matchup of teams that struggle to score at a historic rate.

The New England Patriots travel to the Steel City for an 8:15 p.m. ET game having scored 10 points or fewer in each of their last three games and riding a five-game losing streak. They’ll face a Pittsburgh Steelers team that has averaged 12 points per game in its last three games, two of which were losses.

Bet on Patriots vs. Steelers

NE +6
PIT -6

Not surprisingly, the sportsbooks have responded by setting a rather low bar for both offences in this one. According to StatMuse, the over/under total of 30 (at bet365 and other books) is the lowest in an NFL game since a 1993 game in which the Patriots and rookie quarterback Drew Bledsoe beat the Cincinnati Bengals by a score of 7-2.

It’s fair to assume this game won’t feature any Hall of Fame-worthy quarterbacks as the signal-callers will be some combination of Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe and Mitch Trubisky. Give Thursday Night Football some credit, at least, for coming up with divergent styles week by week. Last week, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Seattle Seahawks 41-35.

Patriots vs. Steelers odds

Patriots Moneyline Odds+220
Steelers Moneyline Odds-270
Spread oddsSteelers -6 (-110)
Over/Under30 points (over -110, under -110)
Time/DateDec. 7, 8:15 p.m. ET
TVBroadcast: TSN

All odds courtesy of

About the Patriots (2-10 SU, 2-10 ATS, 3-9 o/u)

This Patriots team has fallen a long way since Tom Brady left town, igniting the age-old debate about whether it was Brady or Bill Belichick who powered the dynasty from 2001 to 2019. The 2023 Patriots sure aren’t doing the Belichick camp any favours.

The Pats have the worst scoring offence in the NFL, averaging 12.3 points per game, but they still haven’t completely divested themselves of the idea that Jones is their starting quarterback. Instead, they have gone back and forth between Jones and Zappe, and vacillating between QBs is rarely a recipe for success in the National Football League.

The low point was a 6-0 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 13. The indignity was heightened by the fact the Chargers came in with the second-worst passing defence in the NFL. The Pats have scored one touchdown in their last three games. Not only have the QBs been awful, but running back Rhamondre Stevenson is expected to be out a few weeks with an ankle injury.

How much longer will the defence – which has allowed just 26 points in the last three losses – continue to play hard?

As usual, motivation – particularly for the front office – comes into play for this Pats team, which currently would hold the No. 2 overall pick in next April’s draft, but easily could move up to the top spot, which would afford access to USC QB Caleb Williams.

About the Steelers (7-5 SU, 7-5 ATS, 2-10 o/u)

The Steelers just got blown out by a 3-10 Arizona Cardinals team and lost quarterback Kenny Pickett to a high ankle sprain that required surgery on Monday, meaning Trubisky will be the starter in this one. He wasn’t a total disaster last week, completing 11 of his 17 passes for 117 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions, but those completions averaged just 6.9 yards each.

Even with Pickett, the Steelers rarely scored. They are scoring the fifth-fewest points per game (16.0) in the league.

The defence had been stout, but injuries are beginning to pile up, particularly among the team’s linebackers and last week marked a low point against the Cardinals, who staged a 99-yard scoring drive that ate up 15 plays at the end of the second quarter. Last week was the highest point total the Steelers had allowed since Week 4.

Unlike New England, motivation isn’t a problem for this team, which is part of a four-way tie for the three AFC wild-card spots along with the Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, and Cleveland Browns.

This isn’t quite a must-win game for Pittsburgh, but it represents a crucial opportunity to strengthen its playoff credentials with winnable games upcoming against the Colts and Joe Burrow-less Cincinnati Bengals before finishing at Seattle and at home vs. the first-place Baltimore Ravens.

Betting mismatch

The best news for Steelers fans this week was the fact that T.J. Watt was not on the injury report early in the week after missing some plays at the end of the Cardinals’ game. Watt and fellow edge rusher Alex Highsmith have combined for 20 sacks this season and should put plenty of pressure on the edges of the New England offensive line.

Patriots tackles Trent Brown and Michael Onwenu allowed six pressures combined, five on Onwenu’s side, against San Diego and could be susceptible here. As good as the Chargers’ Khalil Mack is, Watt might be better. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is probably a bit biased, but he called Watt, “the best defensive player on the planet,” a couple of weeks ago and the results back up the coach’s contention. Zappe is more mobile than Jones, but he’s unlikely to evade this Pittsburgh rush all game and how much they impact an already-struggling offence could be the key to this game.

Team total: Patriots under 9.5 points


Key injuries

In addition to Stevenson, Patriots OT Tyrone Wheatley Jr. is on injured reserve, while WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (ankle), WR Kayshon Boutte (shoulder), WR DeVante Parker (knee) and WR Demario Douglas (concussion) are listed as questionable.

The Steelers have a bunch of players listed as questionable in this one: LB Elandon Roberts (groin), RB Najee Harris (knee), C Mason Cole, DT Keeanu Benton and CB James Pierre (shoulder).


Forecasts are calling for partly cloudy skies, temperatures of about 4 C at kickoff and moderate winds of about 17 km/h from the southwest.

  • Both these teams are in the bottom five in the NFL when it comes to going over the total. The Steelers are dead last and the Patriots rank 28th in the league at exceeding the point total.
  • Both teams’ scoring averages would eclipse this game’s over/under. The Steelers and opponents are averaging 39.7 points and the Pats and their opponents are averaging 41.3 points.
  • The Pats are 1-8 as underdogs this season, but that win came against the Buffalo Bills when they were even bigger underdogs than in this one.
  • The Patriots have the second-best rushing defence in the NFL and could be in good position to hold Pittsburgh running back Jaylen Warren under his rushing-yards total (set at 42.5 at some books).
  • DeVante Parker has hit the receptions under in his last five away games.
  • Jones has hit the over on completions in 10 of his last 12 games.

Wagers to consider

  • The over/under is tempting given the teams’ historically woeful offences, but it is set low enough to make it easy to pass on here. It’s a mistake to ignore motivation as the end of the season approaches and the guess here is Steelers coach Mike Tomlin will do a masterful job having his team ready for a bounceback effort against a lousy opponent. Consider taking the Steelers at home and laying the six points. Take it up to 6 ½.
  • If New England continues to deny the run, the Steelers are going to be forced to put the ball in the air. They showed signs of being willing to trust Trubisky last week and it seems likely he’ll find the end zone at least once in this game. You’ll have to lay long odds (-230), but it might be worth taking over-0.5 on his touchdown passes.