Ben Roethlisberger out opens the door for a Detroit Lions victory

(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

So you’re telling me there’s a chance?  The Detroit Lions travel to Pittsburgh Sunday to take on the Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers.

Roethlisberger had been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday and will not be available for Sunday’s tilt with Detroit.

The future Hall Of Fame quarterback is undoubtedly not the same player he’d been in the past, and the whole Steeler offense has changed from a power run, downfield big-play striking offense to a quick short passing offense, the power run has stayed the same.

Roethlisberger is averaging a mere 6.6 yards per attempt in 2021, which is on the heels of 6.3 last season and 5.7 in 2019.  This is a far cry from the near 8 yards per attempt he averaged from 2004-2018, and during that time, he almost averaged 9 yards per attempt multiple times.

Rookie running back Najee Harris has become the focal point of the Steelers’ offense.  Harris has galloped for 541 yards on 150 totes and added  40 receptions totaling 289 yards to go with six total touchdowns.

Mason Rudolph will get the start for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Detroit Lions Sunday.

Rudolph has thrown 15 touchdowns to 10 interceptions averaging 6.4 yards per attempt.  He’s totaled 2,089 yards and has guided the Steelers’ offense to a 5-4 record in relief over the past three seasons.

Former Ohio State standout Dwayne Haskins will be active for the first time this season and serve as Rudolph’s backup.

With Ben under center, the Steelers are averaging 20.1 points per game which ranks 23rd and 17th in passing offense averaging 235.8 yards per game.  The Steelers are also averaging just 88.4 yards per game, which is good for 28th in the league.

When you remove ‘Big Ben’ and insert Rudolph, the passing numbers should decrease, and the rushing yards should improve.

The Detroit Lions will still be forced to deal with a pair of talented pass-catchers in Diontae Johnson, who leads the team with 45 receptions and 530 yards.  The Lions will catch a break knowing that Chase Claypool will be sidelined with a toe injury.  The Steelers are also without JuJu Smith-Schuster.  Hopefully, Jerry Jacobs is able to put the clamps on Johnson allowing Aaron Glenn to stack the box and focus on stopping Harris.

The Detroit Lions offensive line will also be forced to deal with star pass-rusher T.J. Watt.  If starting left tackle, Taylor Decker is able to start, that will shift rookie Penei Sewell over to the right side, where Watt plays.  That will become a key matchup if the Detroit Lions hope to win their first game of the season.

Detroit Lions updated betting odds and prediction vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Since the news of ‘Big Ben’ being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the Steelers are now favored by 5.5 points rather than the previous 7.5, according to WynnBET.

The Moneyline goes -250 to the Steelers and +210 to Detroit.  The Under/Over is now set to 40.5 with odds at -110 each way.

I expect to see Detroit come out and give the Steelers all they can handle in the first half since the Lions are coming off a bye.  I’ve got the Lions losing on the road but covering the 5.5 points.  Expect this to be a Chris Boswell game-winning field goal type of contest.

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With a combination of rain and snow forecasted for the Steel City at game-time, I’d prefer to bet the Under.  Expect this to be one of those 20-17 types of games.  I would not entirely discount that the Lions will come away with their first victory of the season, but they have not shown nearly enough to warrant a wager yet.