F. Dale Lolley Column
Steelers will rebound against Bears
Showing how quickly things can change in the NFL, the AFC North was considered one of the better divisions in the NFL the past couple of seasons.
And why not? Cincinnati, Baltimore and Pittsburgh were playoff contenders in each of those years, with the Ravens winning the Super Bowl last season.
Two weeks into this season, however, the entire division is at .500 or worse and oddsmakers don’t think that’s going to change much. All four teams are underdogs this weekend, including the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals at home.
It’s the first time since the Ravens moved to Baltimore in 1996 that they and the Steelers are both home underdogs in the same weekend,
In other words, it wouldn’t be surprising if the AFC North leader was 1-2 after this week.
At 0-2, the Steelers would need a win to get to that record.
And from what they’ve shown in the first two games, scoring 19 points, it might be a stretch for them to get there.
Obviously, what the Steelers have tried thus far hasn’t worked. That’s why you can look for the Steelers to try to something a little different tonight.
With tight end Heath Miller returning after missing the first two games while recovering from a torn ACL, the Steelers finally have all of the pieces available in their passing game.
And they intend to use them.
Look for the Steelers, who are 3-point underdogs, to spread the field and Miller split wide in formations.
With the running game producing only 75 yards in the first two games, the Steelers will attempt to move the ball with a short passing game against the Bears.
And if the defense can limit Chicago’s multi-faceted attack and create a turnover or two – something it has not done this season – the Steelers will not only cover, they will win the game outright.
Take Pittsburgh, 20-17
Loss of left tackle Ryan Clady won’t hurt Peyton Manning and company.
Take Denver, 34-13
The Giants are the only team in league with fewer rushing yards than the Steelers. Much like Ben Roethlisberger with Pittsburgh, Eli Manning will have to carry the offense.
Take the Giants, 24-20
RGIII and the Redskins will find a way to get their first win.
Take Washington, 31-27
This is about as big of a spread as you’ll see in an NFL game. Seattle is coming off an emotional win, and the Jags are playing their second consecutive game on the West Coast.
Take Seattle, 41-10
Good thing the Bengals won last week because they will lose this one. Take Aaron Rodgers over Andy Dalton.
Take Green Bay, 30-24
Titans have been better than expected and are playing their first home game.
Take Tennessee, 24-20
These Patriots can’t blow out anyone, but they are finding ways to beat bad teams.
Take Tampa Bay to cover in a 20-17 loss
Dolphins at home has not been a winning combination in recent years.
Take Atlanta, 27-20
The Ravens could be without Ray Rice, which is why Houston is favored.
Take Houston, 23-17
Cowboys will find Rams are no patsy, but Dallas will find a way to win at home.
Take Dallas, 24-17
This game has over-the-total written all over it. Lots of points.
Take New Orleans, 42-31
San Francisco got embarrassed on nation TV last week.
Take San Francisco, 30-14
There’s nothing to ponder because Christian Ponder is awful. The Browns, however, will be starting Brian Hoyer at QB after trading Trent Richardson.
Take Minnesota, 27-10
Jets will be tough at home on Buffalo rookie QB E.J. Manuel.
Take the Jets, 17-14
Last week: 13-2 straight up; 7-7-1 ATS
Overall: 24-6 straight up; 13-15-2 ATS