NFL Week 5: Top Two Betting Picks
STEELERS (-3.5) over Eagles
The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently 1-2 and are coming off a bye week. They could really use a win this week because they do not want to potentially fall behind in the division by more than two games. After coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Raiders, coach Mike Tomlin will be extra hard on his team leading up to this game. The Steelers also catch the Philadelphia Eagles at the right time, right after the Eagles won in a draining Sunday Night victory against the Giants.
The most pivotal factor for the Steelers in this game is that two of their top defensive players, Troy Polamalu and James Harrison, are back. The Steelers' pass rush has only generated five sacks in three games, and they will definitely get a boost from Harrison. Without Polamalu against the Raiders, the Steelers' secondary got torched by Carson Palmer, as he threw for three touchdowns with a completion rate of 71 percent.
Harrison and Polamalu back in the Steelers' defense will give Eagles quarterback Michael Vick nightmares. Even though the Eagles' offense did not have any turnovers against the Giants (after having 12 in their first three games), Vick still got hit three times and was pressured constantly. He will be facing the heat from the Steel Curtain, who will surely be fired up from their home crowd.
The Steelers also really like playing in October. Since 1992, the Steelers are 46-28 against the spread in the month of October. The home field advantage also helps, as the Steelers have won 11 of their past 12 games at Heinz Field.
Additionally, as I said last week, the Eagles are an overrated team. They have won their three games by a combined four points. While coach Andy Reid did utilize running back LeSean McCoy correctly last game (which is a big reason why they won), McCoy will have a tough time finding holes this week. The Steelers will win convincingly at home, in a game that will mark the turnaround of their season.
This pick is simply because of my belief that the Chicago Bears belong in the discussion for being one of the best teams in football, and they are still not getting enough respect from the Vegas oddsmakers. Similarly to my 49ers pick last week, this is an elite defense on the road going against a quarterback who is rather inept at playing the position.
The Bears' defense came to play in Dallas this past Monday Night, as they intercepted Tony Romo five times and only allowed 41 rushing yards. But, that game was not an anomaly. The Bears lead the NFL in takeaways (14) and interceptions (11). They are also third in the NFL in sacks (15) and fourth in points allowed (a little over 15 points per game).
Julius Peppers and the rest of the defense will be licking their chops while facing Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert on Sunday. While Gabbert has not been the turnover machine he was as a rookie last season, he's still only passed for over 200 yards just once in four games. Gabbert is last in the NFL with a mere 5.79 yards per passing attempt, and he's been sacked a whopping 12 times. His 55.8 completion percentage is fifth worst in the league. In other words, he's having trouble completing short passes, which will not cut it against Chicago's defense.
After having a decent first game back from his injury against Dallas, Matt Forte will have a much easier opponent to run on this week. The Jaguars currently have the third-worst rushing defense in football, allowing over 150 yards per game. The Bears' offense performs better when they do not have to rely so much on QB Jay Cutler. Expect Forte and Michael Bush to pound the rock consistently on Sunday.
The Bears are 3-1 against the spread this season, with their only loss coming at the hands of the Packers. However, this was a rather fluky game due to the Packers scoring on a fake field goal and the fact that the Bears lost Forte in the middle of the game due to injury.
Yet, the Bears still shut down Aaron Rodgers in that game. Compared to the Packers' offense, the Jaguars' offense more closely resembles that of a high school team. Expect the Bears to dominate on the road, and take advantage while the Bears are still underrated by Vegas.