2012 NFL Week 5 Picks: Steelers over Eagles
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A crucial contest in the Keystone State is too enticing to pass up, as two squads harboring championship aspirations squaring off in the Steel City serves as our WhatIfSports.com Game of the Week.
The "City of Brotherly Love" has maintained an oxymoronic stigma for quite some time, evidenced by such infamous unaffectionate acts as booing Santa Claus and cheering a motionless Michael Irvin. Yet even by their surly standards, Philadelphia's impatience with the Eagles has been irrational. Granted, the excess of turnovers in the early going was disconcerting (highlighted, er, lowlighted by a beatdown in the desert at the hands of the Cardinals), and Andy Reid's time management will drive the most rational of supporters berserk. Nevertheless, most pigskin supporters would be thrilled with a 2-1 mark, a sentiment that was not shared by the Philly fanbase.
A stirring 19-17 defeat of the defending Super Bowl champs should alleviate some of this worry, as the Eagles deployed a sound, if not showy, game plan versus the G-Men, transitioning from the air assault on display in the season's opening weeks to a more ground-based initiative. The switch in strategies paid off, as Philly racked up 191 rushing yards in its conquest.
More importantly, the time of possession advantage kept the explosive Giants offense off the field, helping correlate to New York's struggles of lighting up the scoreboard. The landscape of the NFL has undoubtedly transitioned from the soil to the sky, but given that Philadelphia is blessed with a backfield of LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick, striking from the turf may be the team's recipe for success.
Duplicating this effort will be an endeavor for Philadelphia, as the Steelers lead the NFL in time of possession as we enter October. New offensive coordinator Todd Haley has elevated Ben Roethlisberger's already stellar play to another stratum in September, as Big Ben has made eight aerial excursions to the end zone in three contests compared to just one pick.
More impressive is Roethlisberger's 68.3 completion percentage, especially robust considering the Miami (OH) product is also averaging over 300 yards per ball game. In his ninth season in the league, the best of Roethlisberger may be yet to come.
Oddly enough, the Black and Yellow have accomplished this offensive onslaught without much semblance of a running game, averaging a league-low 2.6 yards per attempt as starter Rashard Mendenhall has been shelved with offseason ACL surgery. With Mendenhall set to return this weekend, the Steelers offense will be locked and loaded.
The same cannot be said for the Pittsburgh defense, as the availability of All-Pros Troy Polamalu and James Harrison remains uncertain. The Steelers' resistance has been the franchise's bread and butter for almost four decades, but with these two superstars out, the once-vaunted defense has become a so-so unit, conceding 31 or more points in two of the team's three games. As the Eagles are just one of seven crews to hold opponents to under 300 yards of total offense, the susceptibility of the Steelers defense could prove the difference come Sunday.
So who wins the foray of Quaker State foes? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com simulation engine, the Steelers come out on top 50.9 percent of the time by an average margin of 22-21. For the rest of this week's scores, check below:
|NFL Week 5|
|at San Francisco 49ers||72.0||26||49ers&vSeason=2012&vTeam=Buffalo+Bills" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|at New York Giants||66.0||27||Browns" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|at New England Patriots||63.0||28||Broncos" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|at Minnesota Vikings||56.0||24||Vikings&vSeason=2012&vTeam=Tennessee+Titans" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|at Pittsburgh Steelers||50.9||22||Simulate Game|
|at Carolina Panthers||48.1||20||Seahawks" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|at St. Louis Rams||47.7||20||Simulate Game|
|at Cincinnati Bengals||43.2||20||Bengals&vSeason=2012&vTeam=Miami+Dolphins" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|San Diego Chargers||63.8||29||Boxscore|
|at New Orleans Saints||36.2||24||Saints&vSeason=2012&vTeam=San+Diego+Chargers" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|at Kansas City Chiefs||28.0||19||Chiefs&vSeason=2012&vTeam=Baltimore+Ravens" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|Green Bay Packers||73.0||29||Boxscore|
|at Indianapolis Colts||27.0||21||Packers" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|at Washington Redskins||25.7||18||Falcons" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|at New York Jets||25.5||15||Texans" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|at Jacksonville Jaguars||21.8||13||Bears" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
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