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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New Orleans Saints

Betting Line: Saints -1 o/u 44


John J. Raspanti

The Steelers are soaring and the Saints are sinking. Pittsburgh (5-1) won a squeaker last week at Miami by the score of 23-22. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger scored with a minute to go to seal the victory. The Saints (4-3) were stunned last week by the lowly Cleveland Browns at home 30-17. Could we be witnessing another Super Bowl hangover? The Saints high-powered offense stalled against the Browns with quarterback Drew Brees throwing four interceptions. All told, New Orleans has committed 14 turnovers in its last five games. Even with the four picks Brees is still having a good season having completed 70 percent of his passes and tossing fourteen touchdowns. Running back Christopher Ivory is gaining over five yards every time he touches the ball. Reggie Bush who was injured during the second game of the season is hoping to play this Sunday. Brees has hooked up with wide receiver Marques Colston 40 times while Lance Moore has scored four touchdowns. Jeremy Shockey continues to do his part to the tune of 27 catches. The Saints are ranked fourth overall defensively but their lack of takeaways has hurt them. Linebacker Jonathon Vilma and cornerback Malcom Jenkins lead the team in tackles. Sedrick Ellis has three sacks but needs to step it up a notch against the Steelers. 

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Pittsburgh is quite happy Ben Roethlisberger is back. His heroics last week reminded everyone why he's one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. Through two games Roethlisberger has a quarterback rating of 122.4. Running back Rashard Mendenhall has gained 532 tough yards and scored five touchdowns. Veteran wide receiver Hines Ward is still the Steelers go to guy. He's caught twenty four passes for 350 yards and scored three times. Youngster Mike Wallace has 14 catches while tight end Heath Miller has grabbed 15. The Steelers once strong pass defense has been attacked and exploded the last few weeks. End Aaron Smith, the most significant cog up front in the Steelers' 3-4 defense, tore his left triceps in the first half. His absence is a huge blow to the Steelers defense. Linebacker Lawrence Timmons leads the team in tackles while outside linebacker James Harrison has recorded five sacks.

The Saints stats tell an interesting story. In total yards gained, they are 7th overall. So, they are moving the football with no problem. Their yards per point number is a very poor 17. This tells us they are not making good use of the yards they are gaining. Turnovers and coming up short in the red zone are the culprits. Defensively they are 8th in the NFL in points allowed. Bottom line here is that we are still dealing with a good football team, who at 4-3, is still right in the thick of things. Some improvements need to be made, but don't count the Saints out yet.

The Steelers are very good. Their yards per point numbers of 13 on offense and an NFL best 25 on defense tell us that the Steelers are going to be a force all year long. But they certainly showed some vulnerability last week in Miami. They looked beatable. In this spot, we're getting tons of value with the Saints as a result of their laying an egg at home last week against the Browns. At pick, or -1, we're just being asked to pick a winner here. We'd look for the Saints to bounce back after last weeks showing. With the added juice of being on the big Sunday Night stage, we're going to go against our own numbers here and side with the Saints as they send a message to the rest of the NFL that they are still here. Saints -1

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