AFC Championship Game Odds: Steelers vs. Jets Sports Handicapper Preview

Joe DuffyAnalyst IJanuary 20, 2011

The Steelers are not laying heavy lumber to Rex Ryan in Vegas
The Steelers are not laying heavy lumber to Rex Ryan in VegasJim Rogash/Getty Images

Could we rename the AFC Championship the Villain Bowl?

With Rex Ryan, Bart Scott, Ben Roethlisberger, James Harrison and Hines Ward all showing up at Heinz Field on Sunday, many of the NFL’s most hated personalities will be on hand. Should be fun for NFL betting fans.

New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Sunday, January 23, 6:30 p.m. ET

Betting favorite: Steelers -3.5

Over/Under: 38.5

The New York Jets are sports betting underdogs for the third straight week, but they’re growing comfortable in that role. The Jets are 8-3 against the spread over their last 11 as an underdog, 12-4 ATS over their last 16 road games and 4-1 ATS over their last five playoff road games.

Riding a regular-season win at Pittsburgh earlier this year, New York is also 4-1 ATS over its last five games against the Steelers.

Despite all those positive trends, the betting numbers are strong for the Steelers as well. Pittsburgh has beaten the spread in eight of its last nine playoff games and five of its last six games as a favorite. The Steelers have also beaten the spread in five consecutive playoff home games.

Though the Jets and Steelers have the No. 3 and No. 2 defenses in the NFL, respectively, and their last seven meetings have gone UNDER the total, most of the trends in this matchup point toward the OVER. Of the Jets’ last 11 road games, 10 have gone over the total. Also, 14 of the Steelers’ last 16 playoff games have gone over.

While Mark Sanchez has surprised in the playoff thus far, the Jets were a run-first team in the regular season, ranking fourth with 148.4 yards per game.

But does that mean New York plays into Pittsburgh’s hands? Nobody stops the run like the Steelers do. Pittsburgh allowed an NFL-low 62.8 rushing yards per game this season.

Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers managed to penetrate the Ravens’ secondary last week—but the Jets could provide a tougher challenge. Led by cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, they had the No. 6 pass defense in the league in the regular season, allowing 200.6 yards per contest.

Football betting fans can’t underestimate the talent of the Jets secondary.