#227: The New England Conundrum
The New England Patriots were built to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If recent history is any indication, on Sunday the Pats will cruise to a big lead early, then allow some big plays toward the end when Pittsburgh has no choice.
A friend of mine polled me shortly after the Steelers/Cardinals game last week as to what I thought the betting line should be (the spread, if you will) for NE-PIT. I told him Patriots by 10. He told me that two other people, including an expert from Yahoo! Sports, had said the same thing. However, Las Vegas has the line at Patriots -2.5, and it's been there all week.
Now, if there's one thing I've learned over the past few years, it's that Vegas knows what it's doing, else there would be more parking lots than hotels in Sin City. If other folks out there have handicapped the match-up at closer to -10, then the casual gambler would be putting a signficant sum on that Patriots to win by at least a field goal.
I don't think the Steelers can keep up with the Patriots. Brady will start by dinking and dunking, primarily to slot receiver Wes Welker, who will draw coverage mainly from linebackers (who can't cover). When the secondary comes up to assist, Brady will hit a big gainer to one of his deep threats or big tight ends. And if Brady sees a formation that doesn't seem to favor either option, he'll turn running back BenJarvis Green-Ellis loose who will gash Pittsburgh for first down yardage. With run-stopping defensive end Aaron Smith's career likely over, the Steelers will be more vulnerable to the rush on the left side of the defensive front. And with Stevenson Sylvester likely spelling inside linebacker James Farrior, that only weakens the D even more.
Pittsburgh's offense will score, but they go to the "deep ball to Mike Wallace" well far too often. Also, I think the Steelers won't pull out all the stops this week. Any tricks they want to execute, they will save for an even more imporant rivalry game next week vs. Baltimore.
So something has to break. Either my analysis of the Patriot offense vs. the Steeler defense is completely wrong, or Vegas thinks New England -2.5 will balance their book.
On today's show:
- 2011 World Series best in a decade.
- Penguins take a 5-game winning streak into Toronto. More importantly, they're still in the positive in Shots-on-Goal Differential.
- West Virginia moves to the Big 12 conference.
- Mike goes 0-2 in his NFL picks (5-9 overall) and the World Series pick falls one strike short...just a bad week for picks....