This week, bragging rights for the great state of Pennsylvania are on the line with the Eagles taking the turnpike west to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh to square-off against the Steelers. Right now, they are three-point underdogs for Sunday's showdown which is to be expected playing a quality team on the road.
What makes this game so hard to handicap is all the current variables surrounding both of these teams. The Eagles are 3-1 but have won three games by a combined four points. They have looked dominant on particular drives, but overall consistency is still a major issue. One thing that is for sure; to have any chance to win on Sunday, the Birds have to continue to protect the ball like they did last Sunday night against the Giants.
Pittsburgh is off to a 1-2 start with losses on the road to Denver and Oakland wrapped around a home victory over the Jets. The two main things in the Steelers favor this week besides playing this game in front of the home-town fans, is that they are coming off a bye and getting some key personnel back into the starting lineup. How effective Rashard Mendenhall will be running the ball after coming off a torn ACL remains to be seen, but given that Pittsburgh is ranked 31st in the NFL in rushing he will be a welcomed sight in the backfield. James Harrison and Troy Polamalu are expected to be back on the defensive side of the ball which could provide some added problems if these guys can play to form.
The bottom line is that these two factors tip the scales slightly in the Steelers' favor for Sunday's showdown in what should be a very close game. Given the Eagles recent performance in tight matchups that could exactly what they are counting on.
The following is a link to my complete preview and prediction for this game as part of my ongoing series for Doc's Sports Services utilizing their Unit Betting System. In essence, this system assigns a confidence value to my pick.
Weekly Philadelphia Eagles Betting Picks: Week 5 vs. Steelers