While the matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 5 looks like your standard early-season matchup, this battle in Steel Town will steal the show as the game of the week.
Every time these in-state rivals get together, not only does it become a huge clash between the AFC and NFC, but these battles also draw the focus of most fans across the league.
Who doesn’t want to watch a great football game?
It is easier to forget the magnitude of what NFL enthusiasts are about to witness with this meeting, so we have the complete breakdown so you enjoy every second of the action.
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
When: Sunday, October 7 at 1 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Listen: Online at NFL Audio Pass
Betting Line (via Covers)
Over/Under: 44; Spread: Pittsburgh (-3.5)
There was a time in the storied history between these two teams when it was a defensive battle, but that’s not how it is anymore. With both offenses built to score in bunches, feel comfortable taking the over here and the Eagles +3.5 because they keep every game close.
What’s At Stake?
Besides the bragging rights that come with an in-state battle or an inter-conference game, this is all about moving forward for both teams. Pittsburgh is coming off a bye week and looks to move back to .500 on the season after losing two of its first three games.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, is looking to build on its hot 3-1 start. With a plethora of turnovers, the fact that the Eagles have won three games despite their issues could be a good omen for the rest of the season.
Injury Report (Via ESPN)
Akeem Jordan. LB, Questionable
Riley Cooper, WR, Questionable
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Probable
Michael Vick, QB, Probable
LeSean McCoy, RB, Probable
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Probable
James Harrison, LB, Questionable
Troy Polamalu. S, Probable
Eagles Player to Watch: Michael Vick, QB
There is no more important star on the Eagles roster than Michael Vick. As with every QB in the NFL, the game can be won and lost on Vick's ability to protect the ball.
With 12 turnovers in the first three weeks, it was clear that Philadelphia changed the way it approached the game in Week 4. The increased protection was to protect the star QB from throwing the costly interceptions or facing the dreaded strip-sack.
Despite the fact that Pittsburgh’s defense is a shell of what it used to be because of the injuries and aging of its stars, the probable returns of veterans like Troy Polamalu and James Harrison will have the Eagles' brittle offensive line on notice.
If the O-line gives Vick time to go through his progressions, though, Philadelphia wins big Sunday.
Steelers Player to Watch: Rashard Mendenhall, RB
After missing the first three weeks of the season, star running back Rashard Mendenhall is tentatively scheduled to make his 2012 debut against the Eagles Sunday.
Pittsburgh needs its top running back desperately.
With just 65 yards per game on the ground, Mendenhall will be tasked with taking the 31st-ranked rushing attack and bring it back to something a bit more respectable.
As bad as Philadelphia’s run defense was last year against, the team has adjusted to its wide-nine sets and has vastly improved. At 12th in the NFL with less than 100 yards allowed on the ground per game, Mendenhall’s 2012 debut game will be tough.
Prediction: Philadelphia 27, Pittsburgh 24
No matter which team you are pulling for—or if you don’t even have a horse in this race—this is bound to be one of the best games Sunday and likely of the whole Week 5 schedule.
While fans think of strong defenses normally when thinking about the Eagles, or more so the Steelers, this meeting will be much different. With two pass offenses ready to throw all day and a valid rushing attack from both teams now, this game has ‘shootout’ written all over it.
Using recent history as our template, this will be a hard-fought game that could go either way, but Vick will take the field in the fourth quarter and lead a game-winning drive.
Expect one of the wildest games of the year at Heinz field this weekend!
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