Pittsburgh Steelers at New Orleans Saints, Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Sunday, October 31, 2010, 8:20 pm EST, TV: NBC
Opening Line: Saints Pick’em
Current Line: Saints -1
Opening Total: 43
Current Total: 44
Money Line: Saints -120 / Steelers +100
The Pittsburgh Steelers (5-1) will be on the road for the second week in a row while the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints (4-3) look to bounce back at home on Sunday following an embarrassing loss there to Cleveland last week. The Saints (-1 on the latest NFL betting odds) saw reigning Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees tie a career high with four interceptions in a 30-17 loss to the Browns, including two that were returned for touchdowns by Cleveland’s David Bowens.
Meanwhile, the Steelers escaped Miami with a 23-22 victory last week after a controversial fumble by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger near the end zone stayed with them and led to the game-winning field goal. Despite that play, Roethlisberger has played like the NFL MVP since returning from his four-game suspension to start the season, posting a 122.4 passer rating. He completed 19 of 27 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns against the Dolphins and has five touchdown passes and just one interception in his two games back with the team.
Pittsburgh’s top-ranked scoring defense has helped Roethlisberger and the rest of the offense by allowing just 13.7 points per game. The Steelers also rank first in the league in run defense, giving up only 63.7 yards per game on the ground this season. They likely will not be challenged by the New Orleans running backs since Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas remain out with injuries.
However, the Saints could find some success passing the ball as long as Brees stay away from throwing the ball away to Pittsburgh. The Steelers have allowed just four touchdown passes, but they are giving up 235.7 passing yards per game, which ranks in the bottom 10 in the NFL.
Pittsburgh is also dealing with some injuries with defensive end Aaron Smith out until at least December and possibly the season with a torn left triceps. The team is just 7-8 without Smith in the lineup, surrendering 22.5 points and 114.1 rushing yards per game in his absence. To make matters worse, defensive end Brett Keisel is also doubtful with a left hamstring injury.
Brees threw for 398 yards in the last meeting with the Steelers at Heinz Field back in 2006, but that performance resulted in a 38-31 loss. Former Pittsburgh running back Willie Parker had a monster game in that win with 213 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and Rashard Mendenhall will try to take advantage of a Saints run defense that is giving up 108.7 rushing yards per game. Mendenhall has been held under 90 yards in the last three games after rushing for 120 or more in two of the team’s first three games.
New Orleans is 1-5 against the spread in its last six games and 2-8 ATS in its last 10 games on fieldturf. The Steelers are 3-1 straight-up and against the spread in the last four meetings with the Saints, although only two of those games have taken place over the last decade.
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