The Patriots make the short trip into Pittsburgh for what could be one of the best games of the year. New England is currently 5-1, while the Steelers come into the game at 5-2 after beating the Cardinals on the road last week.
In the first part of my four part series we will take a look at the opening NFL betting lines on this Sunday's afternoon game featuring two of the leagues most exciting QB's.
The NFL odds opened a with the Patriots as -2 ½ road
favorites, while a few sportsbooks have the line at -3. This seems pretty
typical of Vegas. NFL bettors don't have any reference from last week on New
England because of the bye and while Pittsburgh didn't exactly man-handle the
woeful Cardinals, they did have a double digit victory.
No matter the hairstyle, girlfriend or who he's playing, Tom
Brady has been nothing short of fantastic throughout the Patriot's first six
games. Brady's first six games would be an ok season for some quarterbacks as
he has already thrown 16 touchdowns and over 2100 yards. He sports nearly a 68%
completion percentage and he has perfected the New England offense into a well
oiled machine that's tough to stop.
Speaking of being tough to stop, the Patriot's last game
against the Cowboys was the first time this season that Tom Brady looked human
on the football field. Rob Ryan and the underrated Cowboy's defense rushed and
bothered Brady all game. The Cowboys hit Brady eight times with three of those
being sacks. The Dallas defense broke New England's consecutive 30 point
streak, but in the end, Tom Brady threw a touchdown with 22 seconds left to
Aaron Hernandez to complete the comeback win.
Aluminum City Defense
After an embarrassing week one loss to their divisional
rivals the Ravens, the Steelers have been slowly and steadily improving. Their
offensive line has had issues, but Big Ben is starting to click with his
youthful receiving core and they have been scoring points the last few weeks.
What's been more surprising from the defending AFC champions
is their defense. Though the numbers say they rank first against the pass and
11th overall against the run, those numbers are deceiving. The teams
they have beaten are a combined 7-24. In their two losses they have given up an
average of over 351 yards. Despite the good play of cornerback Ike Taylor
against opposing number one receievers, the Steeler's bread and butter of
shutting down running backs has not been there so far this season.
Early week betting trends
According to sportsinsights.com the public is laying some
early money on the Patriots. 82% of the spread money being laid early this week
has been on New England. As mentioned earlier, this line could have been
higher, but considering the Patriots were off during week seven, the sportsbooks have
little to go by and have placed the line at a conservative three points as they
try to keep the early money even.
It obviously didn't work. The public apparently sees that
even though the Steelers are home, they haven't seen an opponent as good as the
Patriots so far. The only opponent that comes close is the Ravens. The Steelers
were favored by one in that game and got destroyed 35-7.
Ben vs. Brady
Neither team's defenses have been playing lights out by any
means so both will have to rely on their quarterbacks and their offenses to
make plays. Both quarterbacks have an arsenal of weapons at their disposal and
I expect them to use all of them during this one. Roethlisberger's weapons in
particular are going to have to help out their quarterback on Sunday. Veteran
Hines Ward and his band of baby receivers will have to exploit the weak
secondary of New England if they hope to keep up with Brady.
Brady's weapons will have to just keep doing what they're
doing; catch the perfect passes coming from number 12. It makes me wonder what
the Patriots would be like without Brady, and if they would look similar to this year's Colts. I know Brady got hurt and Matt Cassel led the team to 10-6, but this
season they don't have the great run game and above average defense like they
did in 2008. The quarterback advantage in this game is clearly on new England
and I don't know of any matchup where it wouldn't be on the Patriot's side.
The line so far has been exactly what I thought it would be.
If the public keeps laying heavy cash on the Patriots it might even go up a bit; but if it does it shouldn't go up by
much. This game won't magically be moved to Foxborough.
Despite having a pretty
good team and being the defending AFC champs, the Steelers haven't given NFL
bettors much to be confident about, and many are weary to add them to their NFL picks. They are 3-4 ATS and have started the
season kind of slow. The Patriots on the other hand have been one of the most
consistent teams in the league as far as scoring goes. They have an ATS record
of 4-2 and are 13-2 SU in their last 15 games.
This will be a big test for both teams, as the Steelers want to
prove they can still beat an elite team, while the Patriots need to show the
ability to stop a good offense. New England and Pittsburgh's defenses have been
playing better. If the lockout has affected something besides the amount of
season ending injuries so far, it has been how far behind the defenses have
been compared to the offenses.
over to the Patriots vs. Steelers thread and give us your thoughts on
this late afternoon showdown in Pittsburgh. Will Tom Brady and the Patriots
continue to dominate? Or, will the Steelers come up with a signature 2011 win?
Be sure to check out
- My thoughts on the 'Total'
- My Pick in this game
- Final Thoughts