Minnesota Vikings safety Josh Metellus (44) reacts after the Detroit...

Minnesota Vikings safety Josh Metellus (44) reacts after the Detroit Lions won the game with a last second touchdown pass during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Detroit.  Credit: AP/Duane Burleson


TV: Fox, NFL, Amazon Prime, 8:20 p.m.

Minnesota by 3; O/U: 43

At this point in the season, it becomes a tad easier, albeit still difficult, to try and pinpoint where a team’s motivation level is at. Steelers-Vikings is a good example. On one side, you have a Pittsburgh team that just rallied against its biggest rival and held off a late two-point conversion. That’s the kind of win that can catapult a team into a late-season playoff run. On the other side, you have a Minnesota squad that must be feeling disheartened after becoming the first team to lose to the Lions this season (Pittsburgh players will probably let them hear it during the game: Hey, at least we tied them!)

I often say that one benefit of playing on Thursday Night Football is that if a team had a bad game the week before, they only need to wait four days to change the narrative. But I’m not sure it applies to the Vikings, whose season essentially ended on that last-second Jared Goff touchdown pass. They’re 5-7, losers of two in a row after it appeared they had figured things out with nice wins over the Chargers and Packers. I think the loss to the Lions will still be on their minds.

Then again, it is the Vikings, and all they do is play close games: 11 of their 12 contests have been decided by eight or fewer points, and seven by three or fewer. The Steelers also play a bunch of tight games. In a close matchup, the coaching could be key and I trust Mike Tomlin in a big spot more than Mike Zimmer. If this is in fact Ben Roethlisberger’s final season, it’s going to be a roller-coaster finish. Add this close win to it as the Steelers continue their playoff push.

The pick: Pittsburgh







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