The top seed in the AFC could be decided on Sunday when the New England Patriots travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers as 3-point betting favorites on the NFL Week 15 odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
New England is coming off a shocking 27-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins as a heavy 10.5-point road chalk. The loss put the brakes on an eight-game straight-up win streak, and marked the team’s first defeat in 15 road contests ahead of Sunday afternoon’s Patriots vs. Steelers betting matchup at Heinz Field.
Last week’s loss also prevented the Patriots from clinching their ninth straight AFC East title, a setback that can be overcome with a single SU victory in their final three contests, or a single SU loss by the second-place Buffalo Bills, who trail New England by three games for the divisional title.
However, the team faces a much tougher road in its quest to claim the top seed in the AFC for the third time in four years. With the 9-4 Jacksonville Jaguars sitting just one game back in the conference standings, the Patriots will need to earn the SU win in Pittsburgh to remain in the hunt for the top seed.
New England has enjoyed regular success in clashes with Pittsburgh, winning outright in four straight meetings, including a lopsided 36-17 victory as 6-point home favorites in last season’s AFC Championship Game.
The Patriots also are 4-2 SU in their past six visits to Heinz Field, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, including a 2-2 SU mark as betting favorites. However, they must contend with a Steelers squad that has averaged 34.75 points per game during their current 4-0 SU run at home.
Pittsburgh also has allowed 33 points per game while failing to cover in its past two home dates. That has produced a 4-0 run for the OVER in Steelers contests on home turf. However, the UNDER has prevailed in two of Pittsburgh’s five home dates when the point total has been set at 50 or higher.
While the Patriots face an uphill battle in the race for the top seed, a Steelers victory combined with a Jaguars loss in their home matchup with Houston as 11.5-point favorites this week would hand Pittsburgh home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. That would mark the first time that happened since quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie campaign in 2004.
Despite the sudden uncertainty surrounding their playoff seeding, the Patriots continue to sit atop the Super Bowl odds as +225 favorites, followed by Pittsburgh at +400, and well ahead of the Jaguars, who continue to trail at +1800.
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