Saturday, September 24, 2016

Who I like, Steelers vs. Eagles

September 23, 2016
Image result for steelers eagles 2016
The Steelers haven’t won in Philadelphia since 1965. To put that into perspective, head coach Mike Tomlin was born seven years later.
Now, that streak is only at eight games, thanks to the Eagles playing in the NFC. But it’s a lengthy streak nonetheless.
A more important streak is this one: The Steelers are 19-2 against rookie quarterbacks since 2004.
Of course, Philadelphia will start rookie Carson Wentz Sunday against the Steelers. Wentz is 2-0, having beaten Cleveland and Chicago in the first two weeks.
The Eagles have done a nice job of protecting the young man, who now has all of 10 quarters of football, counting two in the preseason, in the NFL. They’ve averaged 33 runs in their first two games.
But they haven’t completely shackled the young QB and he’s done a nice job of finding the open man.
The Steelers will try to put a little more pressure on Wentz than either Cleveland or Chicago was capable. And by pressure, we’re talking about putting points on the board early.
Pittsburgh has started slowly in each of its first two games. But the Steelers are intent on starting fast in this one and forcing the rookie to keep up.
And to do so, they’ll attack the weakness of the Philadelphia defense - its secondary.
I liked Jalen Mills coning out of LSU. But he didn’t run well at the NFL combine and fell all the way to the seventh round. He’s playing a lot of snaps for the Eagles with Leodis McKelvin out and McKelvin will be out again this week.
That’s a juicy matchup for the Steelers, particularly Antonio Brown.
Expect Brown to have a big bounceback game this week after catching just four passes on 11 targets in the rain last week. Ben Roethlisberger will get his star wideout involved early and often as the Steelers try to take advantage of that matchup.
A couple of things to keep an eye on this game - in addition to the Mills-Brown matchup - will be how the Steelers handle defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and end Brandon Graham. Cox is an absolute stud and could give the Steelers trouble on the inside, especially with Ramon Foster at less than 100 percent because of an elbow injury.
Cox will line up mostly over David DeCastro and work some games with Graham on the right side, but don’t be surprised to see some inside stunts to Foster’s side or even having him switch things up to take a run at Foster.
The other thing to watch is this: In its first two games, Philadelphia has run 77 and 72 plays. Its opponents have run 52 in each game. That’s a huge disparity. It’s led to a time of possession advantage of 37:43-22:18.
But Eagles are converting just 26.7 percent of their third downs. They are, however, 4-4 on fourth downs. Doug Pederson isn’t afraid to roll the dice a little bit.
The Steelers are 3 1/2-point favorites to win this game and I expect them to jump on the Eagles early. If they take care of the football - Philadelphia is plus-4 on turnovers - they win this one going away.
I like Pittsburgh to win in Philadelphia for the first time since 1965, 27-17.

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