steelers vikings player props
PHOTO CREDIT: CRAIG DUDEK

The Pittsburgh Steelers survived a thrilling finish last weekend to stay relevant in the AFC playoff race, while the Minnesota Vikings were thoroughly embarrassed in a stunning loss to the Lions, severely damaging their playoff chances. The two teams now meet in Minnesota Thursday night in a game that will make the loser’s path to the postseason almost impossible to see. Plenty of betting action is expected, and plenty of that action will be on player props.

Let’s take a look at the best Steelers vs. Vikings player props picks for this Thursday Night Football NFL Week 14 matchup.

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The Best Steelers vs. Vikings Player Props

K.J. Osborn Anytime Touchdown Scorer

You should be able to find a 2:1 return or better on K.J. Osborn to score a touchdown in this one, incredible odds for a guy who is likely to be on the field nearly every play in a pass-heavy offense. Adam Thielen is doubtful for this one with an ankle injury, bumping Osborn up the pecking order for quarterback Kirk Cousins.

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Osborn is already fourth on the team in targets, receptions, and receiving yards, averaging just about three catches per game, despite playing in the same offense as Thielen and Justin Jefferson, the league’s second best touchdown threat and second best receiver in terms of yards, respectively. Thielen’s absence frees up his average of 7.7 targets and 5.3 receptions per game, many of which Osborn should gobble up.

Osborn has three touchdown receptions this season, as well, including one last week against Detroit. Meanwhile, Cousins has thrown 25 touchdowns passes this season, tied for the league’s fifth most. In fact, Cousins leads the NFL’s seventh best passing attack and has thrown at least one touchdown pass in every game this season. He threw 20 of his 25 touchdowns to wide receivers, accounting for 62.5 percent of the team’s total offensive touchdowns. Wideouts have caught at least two touchdowns in eight different games, including each of Minnesota’s last three outings.

Pittsburgh boasts a pass defense that is in the league’s top half in yards against per game, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. The Steelers also allow the 12th most points per contest, with receivers scoring nearly half of the offensive touchdowns tallied against. Opposing wide receivers have scored at least one touchdown in nine of 12 games, including each of the last three outings. They have also done so in four of the five games the Steelers have played on the road. Osborn should certainly get his chances in this one.

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Ben Roethlisberger Over 1.5 Touchdown Passes

No one would call this one of Ben Roethlisberger’s best seasons and it’s hardly surprising that his career seems to be entering its final stage. However, he is still a guy who can get the job done and has a plus matchup to throw a couple touchdown passes here.

Roethlisberger has attempted the fifth most passes per game of any quarterback with more than one appearance this season. He has done a tremendous job spreading the ball around near the goal line, as well. In 11 games, he has thrown 16 touchdowns, with two going to backs, seven to tight ends, and seven to receivers. This willingness to get various players involved will make things tougher for a Minnesota pass defense that allows the tenth most yards per game through the air in the league.

Minnesota also allows the eighth most points in football and has seen opponents pile up 17 offensive touchdowns in the team’s last five games, with 12 of those coming via the pass. In fact, the Vikings have allowed multiple touchdown passes six times already this season, including each of their last two games at home. Opponents actually have the ninth highest passing touchdown percentage against Minnesota this season.

Pittsburgh has scored 68 percent of its touchdowns through the air, the NFL’s eighth highest rate. The Steelers also throw the ball 63.4 percent of the time, the sixth highest rate in football. With rookie running back Najee Harris off a grueling 21-carry, five-catch effort just four days ago against one of the league’s toughest run defenses, we should expect to see him featured less in this one, putting the onus on Roethlisberger’s right arm, especially in the red zone. Multiple touchdown passes in this game from a player who has thrown the eighth most in NFL history should not be too much to ask.

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Diontae Johnson Anytime Touchdown Scorer

As mentioned above, we expect Najee Harris to play a lesser role in this game after such a punishing outing just a couple days ago. If the Steelers expect to remain relevant down the stretch and into the playoffs, Harris’ availability and effectiveness need to be maximized, increasing the likelihood of a reduced workload on short rest.

Diontae Johnson could be the biggest beneficiary of this subtle slide toward the passing game, as he is far and away Roethlisberger’s first receiving option anytime he is on the field. Johnson is already targeted nearly 11 times per game, the league’s second highest rate. He pulls down nearly seven of those for catches per outing, the game’s fifth highest average.

Johnson’s six touchdown catches is tied for the team lead. He is coming off an eight-catch, two-touchdown game against Baltimore. He has caught a score in three of the team’s five road games and owns the team’s three longest touchdown catches of the season.

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He will face off against a secondary which has already allowed opponents to score eight offensive touchdowns of 20 or more yards this season. Minnesota has allowed seven touchdowns to wide receivers in the last three games alone and has only kept opposing wideouts out of the end zone three times all year.

Furthermore, the Vikings allowed five touchdown passes to opposing receivers in their last two home games, with both outings coming against teams averaging less pass attempts per game than Pittsburgh. In a game where we expect Roethlisberger to throw often and for multiple scores, Johnson is a solid bet to be on the receiving end of at least one.