Raiders vs. Steelers Saturday Night Fever Week 16 Betting Picks: Will Derek Carr Freeze in Pittsburgh?

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Derek Carr #4 of the Las Vegas Raiders is sacked by Davon Godchaux #92 and Lawrence Guy #93 of the New England Patriots during the third quarter at Allegiant Stadium. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

NFL Pick: Steelers -2.5 (-115) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Steelers -2.5 (-115)
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The Las Vegas Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers are both seeking a seventh win for Christmas with both at 6-8, but they may also want a nice blanket and cocoa as it could be very cold this Saturday night. It should be the coldest game for the Raiders in the Derek Carr era.

With temperatures possibly falling into the single digits, it could also be the coldest game for the Steelers in Pittsburgh since a 3-degree game against the Patriots in 1989. The Steelers won that one 28-10, but this year’s team has scored more than 24 points just once.

The Raiders have been a tough opponent for the Steelers over the years, and they won in Pittsburgh 26-17 last season. But this may be more of a run-the-ball and play-defense game, so does that give the Steelers an advantage?

The NFL odds are showing the Steelers as a 2.5-point home favorite with a total of 39.5 points. Should you count on it to be low scoring? We have some predictions for this Saturday night matchup that will celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Immaculate Reception.

Las Vegas Raiders vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Saturday, December 24, 2022 – 08:15 PM EST at Acrisure Stadium

Derek Carr’s History with Pittsburgh and Cold Weather

You may hear this stat this week: Derek Carr is 0-6 in games with the Raiders where the temperature is 37 degrees or lower.

Does that mean the games are blowouts? No, every game was decided by single digits except for the 2019 Chiefs blowing the Raiders out 40-9. However, every loss was by at least six points except for a 16-15 loss to the 2019 Broncos in Denver, a defense Carr plays well against lately.

Carr has played well against the Steelers too in his career. In three games, he is 2-1 and has passed for over 300 yards and multiple touchdowns in each game. He has eight touchdowns to one interception and a 113.9 passer rating against Pittsburgh.

The last meeting was last year when Carr passed for 382 yards and two touchdowns in a 26-17 win. Henry Ruggs was his top receiver that day, so obviously the offense is looking much different now with Davante Adams leading the way.

But Carr has not played well in those cold-weather games. He has not thrown two touchdowns in any of those six games, and he usually always throws for under 230 yards.

Carr's Prop Pick

Maybe the most important stat is the scoring. In six cold-weather games, Carr has failed to lead the Raiders to 20 points. Pittsburgh’s defense is not great this year, but it’s really only been the Bills, Eagles, and Bengals who have shredded this defense. The Steelers shut out Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins in the second half in Miami, and that is a better passing offense than the Raiders this year.

Leaning on the game being lower scoring in the very cold conditions unlike anything Carr has seen, we’ll go with his prop pick to go under 1.5 touchdown passes for the seventh time in a cold-weather game.

NFL Pick: Derek Carr Under 1.5 Touchdown Passes (-205) at Bovada

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Derek Carr Under 1.5 Touchdown Passes (-205)
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Which Run Defense Shows Up?

After allowing 215 rushing yards to the Ravens, the Steelers absolutely cleaned that up in Carolina and held the run-heavy Panthers to 21 yards. It was an impressive performance. They may have sold out a few things in the passing game with Sam Darnold to shut down D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard, but it worked out for them.

The Panthers scored 16 points, but even that is misleading as the Steelers stopped them cold in the red zone multiple times in the fourth quarter.

The Raiders enter this game with the NFL’s leading rusher, Josh Jacobs (1,495 yards). He has grided out just shy of 100 yards in his last two games, though he was mostly contained against the Rams and Patriots. The Steelers should be able to prevent him from having another one of those huge games. Jacobs has already rushed for 140 yards five times this season.

The Raiders are 0-6 when Jacobs is held under 80 rushing yards this year. He missed last year’s Pittsburgh matchup, and the offense struggled to run in his absence (20 carries for 41 yards by the running backs). But the Raiders are built differently this year and Jacobs should be ready to go for this one. Just temper your expectations as the Raiders don’t have as many different backs and looks to throw at the Steelers like the Ravens did.

Kenny Pickett or Mitch Trubisky?

The Steelers are going to have another big decision to make at quarterback. Kenny Pickett sat out Sunday’s game with a concussion. Mitch Trubisky started and played well. He avoided the turnovers that plagued him the previous week when he threw three interceptions against the Ravens in a 16-14 loss.

Trubisky even engineered a touchdown drive in Carolina that consumed almost 12 minutes in the third quarter. The Steelers were 12-of-16 on third down, which is incredible, and you might expect some regression in that department this week.

But Trubisky has moved the ball well the last few times he has played for the Steelers. It comes down to turnovers with him. The Raiders are usually lucky to get one takeaway per game, but boy was it a lucky one on Sunday when the Patriots decided to lateral back to midfield, and Chandler Jones took that ball for the game-winning touchdown in a stunner.

What Should We Expect From the Steelers?

The Steelers shouldn’t do anything stupid like that. No one should ever again. But if Pickett plays, we have no idea if he can handle the freezing weather and do well. Fortunately, the Steelers have been running the ball better with Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren. We just watched New England’s Rhamondre Stevenson rush for 172 yards in a game where Mac Jones was 13-of-31 for 112 yards.

The Patriots still should have won if they did not make so many dumb plays. The Steelers have gotten back to some basics on offense and are playing better since the bye week. They should be able to have some success against the Raiders, but do not expect a shootout.

Raiders-Steelers Best Bets and Prediction

It would be such a Pittsburgh thing to hold the Raiders down on the scoreboard and get a win after all the high-scoring losses the team had against the Raiders in the Ben Roethlisberger era. Roethlisberger was 2-6 against the Raiders despite some gaudy stats.

These Steelers aren’t likely to put up great passing stats in this one, but neither are the Raiders, who rely so heavily on Adams. The Steelers held Adams to 64 yards in Green Bay last season and will need a similar effort in this one.

But this is Mike Tomlin at home in prime time, trying to avoid his first losing record, on a night where the team is honoring the Immaculate Reception for this old-school rivalry. The Raiders were one play away from blowing their fifth lead of 13 or more points this season last week.

Let’s trust the Steelers to take care of business and make Carr struggle in the cold while getting this cover in a low-scoring game that hits the under for your NFL picks, and remember to check out our Pennsylvania betting sites guide if you're betting from the Keystone State.

Score Prediction: Steelers 19 - Raiders 16

NFL Pick: Steelers -2.5 (-115) at Bovada

NFL Pick: Under 39.5 Points (-105) at Bovada

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