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New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Betting Line: Steelers -4.5 o/u 45
John J. Raspanti
The Patriots (6-2) and the Steelers (6-2) battle for AFC supremacy in this hotly anticipated game. Last weekend the Pats cruised into the Cleveland expecting to put a beat down on the lowly Browns. What transpired was a good old-fashioned butt kicking as the Brownies completely outplayed New England eventually winning by the score of 34-14. Tom Brady looked shaky in the pocket while Browns rookie quarterback Colt McCoy outplayed him. Browns running back Peyton Hillis ran wild on the Pats gaining 184 yards.
The Steelers might feel confident after watching the tape of the Pats loss.
Not so fast, quarterback Brady is 5-1 as a starter - including two AFC
championship games - against Pittsburgh with 11 touchdowns and three
interceptions. He's averaged 385.5 yards in his past two starts in the series,
the last of which came in 2007. Brady has thrown 14 touchdown passes and is
connecting at a 63 percent rate. Running back Benjarvus Green-Eliis has 385
yards on the ground but New England is pass first, run second. Brady has two
receivers he looks for quite a bit, one is Aaron Hernandez and the other Wes
Welker. Hernandez has caught 34 passes while Welker leads the team with 44
receptions but with an average of only 8 yards a catch. New England's defense is
ranked almost last in the league. Opponents are running for almost 120 yards a
game against them while throwing for 268. Even with their defensive struggles
inside linebacker Jerod Mayo has continued his standout play.
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The Steelers were lucky to get by the Bengals last Monday Night. Leading by twenty points entering the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh was forced to hold on for dear life in an eventual 27-21 victory. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has thrown for 6 touchdowns since his return and has completed 63 percent of his passes. Running back Rashard Mendenhall continues to impress. The 2nd year pro has gained 702 yards on the ground. Veteran wide receiver Hines Ward has caught 30 passes, while Mike Wallace has grabbed 22. On the defensive said of the ball, linebackers Lawrence Timmons, James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley lead the Steel crew in tackles and sacks. Their play has been exceptional. Pittsburgh is allowing only 58 yards on the ground but over 200 through the air.
Games like this are fascinating. Offense vs. Defense. Will the #1 defense in points allowed be able to slow down the #2 offense in points for? The Patriots were shut down in week 2 and held to 14 points against the Jets. They responded by scoring 38 and 41 points the next two weeks. After a 14 point performance last week you'd expect a bounce back week. The Steelers defense is a good one for sure, but they do rank 24th against the pass. The Pats may not be able to run the ball but should make up for that through the air, including short screens which may as well be runs.
The Steelers aren't likely to win this one going away if they do prevail. At anything more a field goal we have to take the points here. The under may also be worth a look. We're going to offer 3 ways to potentially bet this game.
1) Patriots +4.5
2) Under 45
3) Teaser - Pats +10.5 and Under 51