F. Dale Lolley Column
Taking care of football key for Steelers
Taking care of football key for Steelers against Patriots
It seems a simple formula, but when the Steelers don’t turn the ball over more than one time in a game, they have a chance to beat any opponent.
And, as we’ve seen several times this season, when they turn it over more than once, they can lose to anyone.
Pittsburgh is 2-0 when it has one or fewer turnovers, 0-5 when it has more than one.
And that will be critical today against the New England Patriots.
For all of the talk about New England dominating the Steelers, Pittsburgh has actually won two of the last three matchups. Of course, one of those games came with Matt Cassel at quarterback for New England instead of Tom Brady.
Brady is 6-2 against the Steelers, though four of those meetings came prior to 2005, when Brady and the Patriots were still winning Super Bowls.
As hard as it is to believe, the Patriots haven’t won a Super Bowl since 2004. Since then, the Steelers have won two Super Bowls and been to another.
But that wasn’t these Steelers, or these Patriots, for that matter.
While the Steelers’ issues during their 2-5 start have been well-documented – turnovers, sacks and lack thereof and allowing big plays on defense – the Patriots have found a way to overcome some of the same issues to win.
New England has allowed 23 sacks, is converting 32 percent of its third downs, has fumbled 11 times (losing only three) and Brady has been intercepted six times. New England’s opponents have lost six fumbles. It adds up to a plus-7 turnover margin for the Patriots, helping overcome some shortcomings.
By contrast, the Steelers are minus-9 in turnover margin, much of which was built during an 0-4 start. Pittsburgh has turned the ball over only three times in its last three games.
The Patriots have 10 interceptions, though four have been by corner Aqib Talib, and he’s questionable to play with a hip injury.
The Patriots are 7½-point favorites and that seems like a big number for a team that has had six of its eight games decided by a touchdown or less.
The Steelers will continue to take better care of the football, but lose a close one.
Take the Steelers to cover in a 24-20 loss
Bears (9) are only team in league with fewer sacks than the Steelers.
Take Green Bay, 34-20
Carolina will win, but not by 7 ½.
Take Atlanta to cover in a 23-20 loss.
I know Buffalo is tough at home, but this spread seems ridiculously small.
Take Kansas City, 23-17
Cowboys are banged up, but the Vikings can’t settle on a quarterback.
Take Dallas, 31-17
Jets are tough to run against. Saints won’t bother to run, but the Jets will keep it close.
Take the Jets to cover in a 24-19 loss
Rams are coming off an emotional loss Monday night to Seattle.
Take Tennessee, 19-13
Chargers are terrible on the East Coast when playing 1 p.m. games. They also have the Broncos next.
Take Washington, 27-24
It’s a big number, but the Seahawks are strong at home. Tampa Bay hasn’t been good anywhere.
Take Seattle, 38-6
Since 2003, road favorites coming off a bye to play a division opponent are 20-2 straight up and 18-4 against the spread.
Take Baltimore, 17-13
Houston sis ticking with Case Keenum at quarterback, and running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate are hurting.
Take Indianapolis, 27-10
Nick Foles, coming off a concussion, is back in at quarterback for the Eagles. As the Steelers found out last week, the Raiders are tough at home.
Take Oakland, 20-16
Last Week: 9-3 ATS; 8-4 Straight up
Overall: 46-63-4 ATS; 70-43 Straight up
F. Dale Lolley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.