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John J. Raspanti
The Eagles have won three games by a margin of four points. Their offense ranks fifth in the NFL while their defense is sixth. They defeated the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants last Sunday 19-17. Sill doubt lingers about Philadelphia.
"I'd like to keep winning. I'd like to keep winning by more than one or two points. I'd like that, but I like winning," said coach Andy Reid. "I honestly don't feel like we've come close to playing our best football yet. I don't think our players do or coaches."
Michael Vick has completed 57 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and six interceptions. Vick has rushed for 130 yards. His performance against the Giants (19-30 241 yards) was his best of the young season. LeSean McCoy continues to run the ball well averaging 4.7 yards per carry. DeSean Jackson leads the receivers with 20 catches. Brent Celek and Jeremy Maclin compliment each other.
The Steelers slow start (losing to the Raiders 34-31 two weeks ago) has surprised many. Injuries have decimated the defense. Linebacker James Harrison (knee) hasn't played a down. Strong safety Troy Polomalo has battled a creaky calf muscle. Both will play this Sunday according to Coach Mike Tomlin.
"All guys performed well, and we anticipate them being able to participate this weekend," Tomlin said, according to KDKA in Pittsburgh."Based on how I looked at what we worked on yesterday, I think that's a safe assessment."
The Steelers offense will also get a boost with the expected return of running back Rashard Mendenhall. The fourth year pro registered two 1,000-yard rushing seasons in the past three seasons, but missed the first three games of this season while recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL. "I'm really just waiting on my opportunity," he said Sunday. "I just want to continue to work and, as we as an offense sort of form ourselves and bring the pieces together, I want to bring whatever piece I bring."
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has completed 68 percent of his passes with only one interception. Mendenhall's return pushes Issac Redman to the bench. Redman has gained only 72 yards on the ground. Antonio Brown has caught 18 passes. Mike Wallace has scored three touchdowns and caught 17 balls. Tight end Heath Miller has 15 catches for the season.
The Steelers never expect to lose at home. The Eagles have made an art form of the Raiders motto, 'Just Win baby.' It's difficult to imagine a scenario where the Steelers lose again.
This matchup is one between two teams that have had their share of success in recent years. However, the way we see it, neither one is close to being among the NFL's elite. Sure, it's early and the jury is still out, but the Eagles for example, are 3-1, with those wins coming by 1 point twice and 2 points in the other. They are 3 points from 1-3. The Steelers are 1-2 and gave up 30+ points in those losses (both road games) and beat the hapless Jets at home.
It's early, but we love to look at the yards per point numbers. You really need 4 games in order to use this stat, and the Steelers have only played 3, but both of these teams are among the worst in the league. The Eagles ARE the worst in the league offensively with a yards per point number of 25.3! They simply can't put the ball in the end zone. Their offensive number is a mediocre 14.3 giving them the largest ypp differential in the NFL, -10.9. The Steelers are 29th on the league defensively with a very poor 11.6 ypp number.
These may be two marquee names, but based on what we have seen thus far, this is an ugly game. We'll side with the Steelers here, with the hopes that their defense plays better at home than it has on the road. But this is a good game to watch and judge just how far these two have fallen rather than investing in the outcome. Steelers -3 -120 but just a lean.
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