NFL Preseason Betting: Pittsburgh Steelers vs Philadelphia Eagles Preview
This prediction completes my trio of anti-trend picks for the day. Mike Tomlin is another preseason all-star. He is 16-5 SU, 4-2 SU in Week 1 and 13-8 ATS in his preseason tenure.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have Andy Reid, who has traditionally been NFLX fade material. He is 21-31 SU, 6-8 SU in Week 1 and 22-28-ATS.
However, before you stop reading, consider that Andy Reid was 3-1 SU in 2011, and he is coming back to coach this game after his son tragically died earlier this week.
Old trends are not going to apply to this game for a couple of reasons. First, he carries a great amount of respect from his players and fellow coaches. He's not only been a good coach on the field, but he's been an excellent coach off the field as well. His players will want to play well for him, especially in front of the home crowd.
Secondly, Reid has had an extra sense of urgency over the last couple of years. He is very much on the hot seat this seat after falling short of the hype in 2011. A good start to the year is something of a priority this season.
The Eagles opened up at -3, but bets came flying in on the Steelers. This prompted a line move to 'pick em'. However, since the untimely death of Reid's son, we've seen much more balanced action. If you shop around you can find a +1 like I've done at Bodog, but I'd feel fine taking Philly at "pick em" as well.
Which team will cover the spread?
Normally, it would be foolish to fade a team that had the likes of Big Ben, Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch in the rotation. All of these guys know the system and should have little trouble executing the game plan.
The only problem? Mike Tomlin has already said he knows what he has with those guys and that fourth-string QB Jarred Johnson will get "extended" playing time in the second half. Big Ben has also dealt with some minor nagging injuries in camp to his shoulder and ankle. He won't be on the field longer than a series or two.
For the Eagles, each QB will play a quarter. Vick in the first, Kafka in the second, Foles in the third and Edwards in the fourth. Edwards has the most motivation, as he's on the outside looking in. It's not easy to pick up this offense this quickly, but he brings experience to the table.
Kafka has had good reviews from camp, and the backup position is his to lose. I like how this group matches up with the Steelers.
One look at the Eagles' injury report, and one might get concerned about their ability to rush the passer. Babin, Cole and Patterson are on the sidelines, but this is going to give Philly a chance to see what first rounder Fletcher Cox has in store for 2012.
In fact, the Eagles boast some of the best depth along the D-line in the entire NFL. This is particularly important given the current O-line situation in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers are starting David DeCastro and Mike Adams on the line—both rookies. In addition, Pittsburgh is also without Mike Wallace (holdout) and Rashard Mendenhall (injury). Heath Miller is also questionable for Thursday.
Tomlin has the fifth-oldest starting lineup in the NFL, and nine players on the roster are over 30. Given his statements about his QB rotation and decision to start the rookies on the O-line, I get the feel that he is focused more on evaluation in this matchup rather than results.
Under normal circumstances, I would either play Pittsburgh or take a pass in this matchup. However, I get the sense that Eagles have something to prove and extra motivation, while the Steelers are in cruise control. Philadelphia's team depth on both sides of the ball will also be on display.
NFL Pick: PHI +1 (Bodog)
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