NFL Playoffs 2011: Jets vs. Steelers Betting Odds and Pick

Eddie AdamsContributor IJanuary 23, 2011

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 19:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets is rushed by LaMarr Woodley #56 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game on December 19, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Last Sunday evening when the Jets vs. Steelers betting lines opened, Vegas odds-makers made Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers three-point favorites, while the "total" was 38.5. Now just hours before kickoff, online betting giant adjusted the AFC Conference Championship betting lines. The Steelers are currently four-point favorites while the Jets/Steelers over-under is down to 38.

The Jets have fond memories of Steel City from just over a month ago. The Jets had dropped two straight and were in desperate need of a win to keep on the NFL playoffs pace.  Despite being four-point underdogs, the Mark Sanchez led Jets marched into Pittsburgh and came away with a 22-17 victory.

Winning on the road is something New York did well this season; they were 8-2 straight-up and 7-3 against the spread (ATS) playing away from North Jersey this season.

Behind the terrible towel waving fans of western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh is always a tough place to play; however, three of their four losses came in front of the home crowd this season. They were a great team for the NFL betting crowd when playing at home, covering the point spread in six of their nine games.

In their Week 15 loss to the Jets, defensive wrecking machine Troy Polamalu was on the sidelines with a strained achilles. Anyone that bets on football knows that when No. 43 is on the sidelines, the Steelers are a much different team.

Over the last two seasons, Pittsburgh is just 6-7 straight-up and just 4-9 ATS. The Southern Cal product is back on the field, and it’s no coincidence that the Steelers are 2-0 both straight-up and ATS since his return.

No question coach Rex Ryan has his Jets playing with a ton of confidence, but the key to this game is how well Sanchez plays. At times the second year player looks like an All-Pro, whereas other times he looks among the NFL’s worst.

Take this year’s playoffs for instance. In the opening round against the Colts he had zero touchdowns and one interception while accumulating a passer rating of 62.4. Then last week in New England he hurled three touchdowns, zero interceptions and recorded a 127.3 passer rating.

Even though the Steelers have the No. 2 ranked defense in the NFL, they can be passed on, ranking 12th in the entire league (214.1 yards per game). However, those numbers are a bit skewed considering so many of their opponents had to play "catch-up".

The more important numbers are they recorded 21 interceptions, while giving up just 15 touchdowns passes this season. I can see a frustrating day for Sanchez.

For bettors looking to make a play on the Jets-Steelers total, the football betting trends scream "over". The Jets covered the "over" in 10 out of their last 11 road games. Meanwhile, the "over" is 10-1 in Pittsburgh’s last 11 playoff home games. Jets-Steelers free pick

I loved the Steelers as three-point favorites earlier this week; can’t always wait until game day to place your bet. Last Sunday I thought the Jets-Steelers point spread would open at 4.5, so this line is now sharp in my opinion. That being said, it’s hard not to back the Steelers considering the quarterback match-up. My play on Pittsburgh is already in, and now that the total has dipped a bit, it’s time to pull the trigger on the "over" at