The Patriots opened as 6.5-point favorites as they host the Steelers in Week 9.
When analyzing an identical spread against the Dolphins last week, I predicted that injuries would catch up with the Pats on defense, exposing more of the warts of the offense. And despite the 10-point win, everything I had suspected was confirmed. Aside from an absurd tip-drill pick, the defense was only slightly above average. The offense benefited from a number of timely penalties, including a 7-point swing on the illegal batted ball following a strip sack of Brady. The Pats were outgained 303-252 and needed every bounce to win by two scores. And there is reason to think they might need that to happen again to cover this spread.
The Steelers have been a soul-sucking disappointment to their fans, but they haven’t exactly been blown off the map. Three of their five losses have come by a score or less, and they’ve won two out of three since the Week 4 bye (and should have won a third last week if their kicker wasn’t so busy doing his best Scott Norwood impression). Pittsburgh’s offensive line woes have led their doofy-looking QB to be abused like a piñata, but they have made small strides toward establishing some semblance of a running game since the debut of Le’Veon Bell. The defense has also started to generate more takeaways, the lack thereof which led to several losses early in the season. The Steelers are perfectly capable of playing .500 ball from here on out, and I don’t suspect they’ll be dominated in any games the rest of the way.
One big reason why I think New England still wins this game is because of Pittsburgh’s woes in the red zone. They’ve been forced to settle for field goals far too often, and their defense isn’t likely to completely shut down Brady and the Pats running game. The Pats will likely emerge with a hard-fought win here, so I’m going to punch a puppy, vomit in my mouth and take the Steelers and the points.
Other Lines I Like
Jets (+7) vs. Saints
Did I really just take the Jets and the Steelers in the same week? I’m really one step away from leaving the car running in a sealed garage while I take a nap in the front seat, aren’t I? The Saints have played better at home than on the road, and Rex Ryan’s crew isn’t quite as bad as they looked last week. And even if they start to get blown out, do you trust the officials to not call some obscure, absurd penalty to keep them in it? Yeah, me neither.
Chiefs (-3) @ Bills
I’m not a superstitious person. But if the universe allows Alex Smith to be undefeated in the first half of the season, would it really allow the Bills to end that streak? I think not.
2013 Record ATS: 9-14-1
Record ATS since 2010: 116-113-3