Pittsburgh Steelers at Saint Louis Rams
Time: 1 PM ET (CBS)
Spread: PIT -2
Betting odds c/o Bovada
The Pittsburgh Steelers have had a tough draw weeks 1 & 2 but made the most of it emerging 1-1 after splitting with the New England Patriots (L) and San Francisco 49ers (43-18 win). This week the Steelers take to the road to face the Saint Louis Rams and are 2-point favorites in the contest. The game will air at 1 PM EST on CBS.
The Week 2 victory over the 49ers was just the absolute drubbing the final score made it sound like. Big Ben Roethlisberger rarely misfired, completing 21 of 27 for 369 yards a three TDs without throwing a pick. As if that were not enough, DeAngelo Williams was productive in the backfield with another trio of TDs as part of his 77 yards.
WR Antonio Brown absolutely published the 49ers by catching 9 of his 11 targeted passes for 195 yards and one of the three receiving TDs. On three plays the Steelers were able to rush Michael Vick as a RB, though he was good for negative-3 yards. It remains to be seen if Vick can do anything along the lines of reinventing himself, but given Big Bens’s stellar production, it really may not matter in any significant form or fashion.
Besides Brown’s outpouring from the WR position, Darrius Heyward-Bey also racked up 77 yards on four catches and Markus Wheaton had 67 yards on just a pair of catches, missing two of his intended passes.
Defensively, Ryan Shazier was a stud. He came up with a recovered fumble while also recording 11 solo tackles and a QB hit, one of eight hits for the Steelers. Punter Jordan Berry also helped the team keep the 49ers out of good field position with 142 yards on his three punts, including a long punt of 62 and two of those three kicks landing inside the 20. The special teams play for Pitt may be another reason that this team is going to exceed expectations in 2015.
The Saint Louis Rams are 1-1 on the year after a big Week 1 victory over the Seattle Seahawks before falling last week 24-10 to the Washington Redskins.
QB Nick Foles has struggled a little with a 59 percent completion ratio, but he has avoided picks and been able to average 211 yards per game. His passer rating is 94.4, and he has received help from receivers Jared Cook and Benjamin Cunningham who have combined for 236 yards on 18 catches while being targeted 24 times between them. Seventh-year WR Kenny Britt has also been consistently decent with 37 yards in Week 1 and 44 last week, while getting a TD in the effort.
The backfield has been far less productive with the team averaging just 71.5 yards per game. Tavon Austin has experienced the most success on a per-play basis, averaging 7.1 yards on his eight carries, but no other Ram has been good for any more than four. Rookie Tre Mason has been pretty disappointing with 26 yards on seven carries and only Austin has rushed for a TD (outside of Foles also having one from the QB position).
Defensively the Rams have benefitted from Alec Ogletree’s 23 total tackles (two for loss) and Aaron Donald’s team leading 2.5 sacks. Saint Louis is averaging four sacks per game and Robert Quinn has accounted for another pair of them while having nine total tackles.
In special teams the Rams have managed to get some good returns out of Isaiah Pead. Pead has returned three kicks for 63 yards and Benjamin Cunningham has one return for 28 yards. Kicker Greg Zuerlein has made all three of his field goals including a 50-plus harder. Lastly, Johnny Hekker has punted for a net average of 40.7 yards and has put four of his 11 punts inside the 20. He is battling illness but is expected to participate.
Despite the Rams strong play, it will be difficult to knock off Big Ben if he continues to play as the monster he was last week. Though the Steelers are just 2-point favorites in the contest, we favor a win by a full TD making covering the spread a nice prospect for bettors of this contest. The 48.5 point total is dicey and bettors may be wise to avoid wagering on it.