Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0)
Sunday, 4:25 pm EDT at Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
Spread: Steelers -3.5
The Eagles have proven that they can beat a bad team at home (the Browns) and a bad team on the road in primetime (the Bears). This week, the Birds face their toughest challenge yet, and possibly all season. Vegas gives the Steelers the second-best odds to win the Super Bowl, this year. While Pittsburgh’s defense may no longer conjure the fear of the Steel Curtain and subsequent defense-driven teams, their offense is amongst the most potent in the league. The Eagles will avoid facing top running back Le’Veon Bell due to his three-game suspension, but his substitute DeAngelo Williams leads the league in rushing (237 yards) through the first two weeks. Add quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and star wideout Antonio Brown to the mix, and it’s clear the Eagles’ defense will have their hands full. If Carson Wentz continues to play beyond his years as he has in his first two games, fans could be in for a thrilling, high-scoring affair. Should he come back down to earth and make some of those rookie mistakes that he has thus far avoided, things could get ugly before the day is done.
As we await kickoff, here are the predictions from the football minds here at Pattison Avenue and what we’ll be watching throughout the game – please follow and harangue them on twitter dot com:
Picking against the Eagles seems to be working (for them), so I’ll continue to do it here. Just don’t see how they can slow down Antonio Brown, even if Leodis McKelvin is healthy. Carson Wentz probably experiences his first NFL shootout this weekend and honestly, do wins and losses really matter if he continues to improve each week? Let’s say Steelers 30-24 but we all take it in stride because Wentz battles Ben Roethlisberger throw-for-throw and 2-1 is a great spot to be heading into the bye.
Ugh. I so want to pick the Eagles. Their defense is rolling and the offense has had its moments. But here is the issue: the Birds face perhaps the best team in the NFL in our cross state rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ah yes, the battle of the head versus the heart. Unfortunately, I think the high-powered Steeler offense will be too much to handle for the Eagles depleted secondary. Although the line stands at Steelers just -3.5, I think the Birds keep it close until the fourth quarter, that’s when the Steelers flex their championship muscle. Steelers, 27-20
The focus this week is how on earth are the Eagles going to stop Antonio Brown. I’m here to tell you that they won’t and they know it. They don’t have the personnel to shut him down, but they don’t have to. As long as they keep him from putting up monster numbers, I think they will be okay. The main thing is not letting DeAngelo Williams run all over you. The Eagles defense lucked out by avoiding both Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell.
On the other side of the ball I like the Eagles offense against a Steelers defense that is good by reputation only. Pittsburgh’s defense hasn’t been good since the 2010 season and are one of the worst open field tackling teams in the league. Darren Sproles could be the difference in this one. Eagles, 31-21
Zach Bates ()
Eagles will have their first true test this week with Big Ben and Antonio Brown. It will be interesting to see which Ben comes to play in Philly. If it’s C+ Ben and the Eagles bring their A+ game, the Birds should be 3-0, if not, 2-1 isn’t all that bad either. I may be crazy but, Eagles 28-27.
There’s a lot of ways that Steelers can run away with this game, but if the Eagles want to have a chance, they will need to pressure and sack Roethlisberger. Fletcher Cox, fresh off his massive contract, has continued to be a disruptive force up the middle (despite only one sack to show for it), but the whole defensive line will need to convert those “QB pressures” into sacks if they have hopes of knocking off the Steelers. I see a huge game for Antonio Brown, and the Eagles will need to be bailed out by a defensive or special-teams score, to have a chance in this one. Steelers, 34-24
To steal from the Phillies Bobby Burnett song played after each win, the Eagles are Goin’ Back to Philadelphia, Pa. as one of only seven NFL teams w/o a L. Their opponents, cross state rivals Pittsburgh Steelers, are among that group, so something’s got to give. This will be the first true test of the new look Eagles against a tried and true QB in Ben Roethlisberger (559 Yds, 62.2 Completion %, 6 TDS, 3 INTs, 95.5 QBR) and a steady Steeler franchise. I think the Eagles strength being their defense and special teams, will negate that some, but the offense is still an unproven commodity against the weak teams they have played in the early going. The Green and White Zealots newest saviour, Carson Wentz, has yet to face any real adversity, having only to overcome a four point deficit in Chicago, so unless the Birds fly out of the nest quickly, we may well see more than that this week. They will need better O-Line play, and their young receivers to make more plays. I believe with the help of the home phaithful, the Eagles will narrowly pull of their second upset in a row. Eagles 27-24
P.S. Why is this game a 4:25whatever start? These are two eastern time zone teams, in a game meaning little more than a W/L in the standings. This should be a straight up 1:00 game. For those of a certain age who grew up on 1:00 Sunday football as the norm, you may understand why little stuff like this bugs me /End OldHead Rant
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