Eagles vs. Steelers: How Philadelphia Will Pull the Upset in Pittsburgh

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Eagles vs. Steelers: How Philadelphia Will Pull the Upset in Pittsburgh
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

The battle for supremacy in Pennsylvania is about to be settled. Sure, the Pittsburgh Steelers will claim they deserve the crown based on such things as Super Bowl rings, the most recent Super Bowl appearance and making the playoffs last season.

But bragging rights go to the last team to win head-to-head and that is the Eagles. They claimed a 15-6 win in 2008.

 

When: Sunday, Oct. 7 at 1:00 p.m. ET

Where: Heinz Field

Spread: Steelers -3½

Over/Under: 43

 

After Sunday, Philly will keep the crown for an additional four years, but not because the Eagles have their issues worked out yet.

Philadelphia will win because Pittsburgh's issues run a little deeper.

I've drawn the ire of an occasional Steelers fan over the last six months for predicting a collapse this season. There was a scathing message for suggesting that Pittsburgh (and the New Orleans Saints) weren't going to be good enough in 2012 to validate a Monday Night Football matchup.

There was also disdain for promoting a trade with the Steelers to gain Pittsburgh's 2013 first-round draft pick, as I believe they will be drafting very early. So far they've done little to convince me the team isn't in the start of a brief rebuilding process.

The Steelers offense was expected to catch fire this season. Todd Haley was going to bring an explosive offense, as seen by his time in Arizona and Kansas City when his teams led the lead in passing and rushing, respectively.

But without Rashard Mendenhall and David DeCastro, not to mention other injuries along the offense line, the unit simply hasn't meshed. They are averaging just 2.6 yards per rush and are 18th in the league with 349 yards per game.

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The passing game has been the bright spot for the team. Ben Roethlisberger is completing 68.3 percent of his passes and is averaging 283 yards per game. He has eight touchdowns in three games with just one interception, yielding a quarterback rating of 109.2.

Mendenhall may enter the lineup on Sunday and fix the offensive woes, but I'm betting against it. It will take at least a few games for him to get the feel of the offense and get back into game shape.

As mediocre as the offense has been, the defense has bigger issues. They are top-5 in yards allowed but fall into the bottom-third of the NFL by giving up 25 points per game.

Criticism has ranged from them becoming predictable to simply not executing.

Derek Hagan, wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders, offered his thoughts via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

They pretty much did the same thing that they did six, seven years ago when (Carson Palmer) was playing with Cincinnati. Obviously, they've got a legendary D-coordinator over there. He's been running certain things that other teams have seen, that we've seen.

We knew their tendencies and we were able to hit them with some big plays when it really counted.

Karl Walter/Getty Images
The Steelers need James Harrison for their defense to click.

Aside from the aforementioned issues, the age of the Steelers defense is showing in the form of injuries. Troy Polamalu and James Harrison have both missed time this season, leaving huge gaps in play.

The time will likely come this season when their team is together and healthy. However, it won't be the norm and that is what will leave Steelers fans feeling empty at seasons' end.

The Eagles have no doubt spent time studying what the Raiders were able to do against the Steelers. Michael Vick has slowly been improving this season and will be able to utilize his offensive weapons to exploit holes in the Steelers defense.

Philadelphia also boasts a Top 10 defense that will do enough to win the game.

 

Prediction

  Philadelphia 27-20

 

Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and Seattle Seahawks.

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