Cardinals vs. Steelers Expert Pick – December 3, 2023
The Arizona Cardinals (2-10) visit the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4) in a game that has significant playoff and draft slot implications. With an improved offense and favorable schedule, the Steelers look to challenge for the division title and playoffs.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, are 0-6 on the road this season and are in play for the No.1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
(2-10 SU, 6-5-1 ATS)
(7-4 SU, 7-4 ATS)
When: Sunday, December 3, 2023 at 1:00 PM ET
Where: Acrisure Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA
Oh Come, All Ye Faithful
With the holiday season upon us there is a sense of hope amongst the Steelers’ faithful. After riding a roller coaster through the more difficult part of their schedule, the Steelers find themselves with a legitimate chance to not only make the playoffs but win the AFC North Division title.
And why not be optimistic?
In their past three games the Steelers have rushed for an average of 181 yards. Only the Ravens, at 187 yards per game, have been better. In their debut as co-offensive coordinators, Eddie Faulkner and Mike Sullivan guided the offense to its first 400+ yard output in 59 games. The return of All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick bolsters a defensive unit already playing well.
With two home games upcoming against the two-win Cardinals and New England Patriots the Steelers look to provide coach Mike Tomlin the December wins he so covets. It’s been 15 years since the Steelers beat the Cardinals in Super Bowl XVII and when coach Tomlin laid down his most famous “Tomlinism” quote.
“We will not go gently. We’re gonna unleash Hell here in December, because we have to. We won’t go in a shell. We’re gonna go in attack mode, because that’s what’s required.”
What’s required is a strong running game and a staunch defense to win in December and make a playoff run. Running backs Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris have sparked this offense and given them a much-needed identity. The Steelers look to start strong against the Cardinals who have struggled in all phases of defense throughout the season.
After getting blasted 37-14 by the Los Angeles Rams at home the Cardinals look like a team in need of their bye next week. The Rams piled up 228 yards rushing which should bode well for the much-improved ground attack from the Steelers. The Rams must control the tempo of the game and keep their defense off the field as much as possible.
Former Steelers running back James Conner is averaging 5.1 yards per rush attempt this season and will be a focal point for this offense. Since returning from his torn ACL injury, quarterback Kyler Murray has been steady in his three games back, averaging 240 yards passing and 29 rushing yards per game.
He has a rushing touchdown in all three games since returning. It’s on both players to use their legs to slow the game down and keep it close to have a chance to pull the upset over the Steelers.
The Pick (Early Xmas Gift!)
With the Steelers being 7-4 ATS (against the spread) while still being outgained by an average of 61.5 per game it’s difficult to use standard betting metrics when deciding where and what to wager.
Oddsmakers seem to like their new offense providing the third-highest total of the season while being almost a touchdown favorite. So, let’s keep it simple.
The Cardinals have lost their last nine road games and the Steelers have covered the spread in eight of their last nine games against teams that held a losing record. The Steelers will dominate on the ground against the league’s worst rushing defense and win with ease.
The Steelers unleash hell on the Cardinals and march to a 31-13 blowout victory.