NFL Betting News and Notes Thursday, August 21

NFL Betting News and Notes Thursday, August 21

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Philadelphia Eagles: NFL Week 3 Preseason Preview

The Pittsburgh Steelers (2013: 8-8 SU, 9-7 ATS; 2014: 1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS) are coming off a 19-16 win over Buffalo, but still need to improve their running game. The Philadelphia Eagles (2013: 10-7 SU, 8-9 ATS; 2014: 0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS) have given up 70 points in their first two games, losing both. On Thursday, the Eagles host the Steelers from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia at 7:30pmET.

Opening and Current Odds Philadelphia opened as a 3-point betting odds favorite and moved to 3.5 in most books. The total opened at 46 and moved to 50 in most books.

Can the Steelers stop the powerful Eagles' offense?

There are a lot of things Mike Tomlin would like his team to accomplish in their "dress rehearsal" in Game 3. They've faced the likes of Buffalo and the New York Giants, and held them to under 21 points. This will be a bigger test against the high-octane Eagles.

Last week, the Steelers edged Buffalo, 19-16 as their first-team offense dominated, led by Ben Roethlisberger's two touchdown passes in the first quarter. He ended up playing the entire first half and went 8-for-11 for 128 yards. Number one receiver Antonio Brown led Pittsburgh's receivers with 93 yards, including a 76-yard touchdown catch.

The bad news was the disappointing effort of the running game as they rushed for just 35 yards on 18 carries.

The good news is that rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier made his debut after sitting out the first week with a knee bruise. The Ohio State speedster impressed with 11 solo tackles and an interception he returned for 27 yards.

Defensively, the Steelers look to be strong once again as they were ranked ninth in pass defense (221.1 yards per game) and allowed 115.6 yards per game on the ground (21st). They did allow the Bills to rush for 150 yards on 38 carries.

Key Trends: Pittsburgh is 4-0 Over last 4 in Week 3.

Pittsburgh: S Mike Mitchell (groin) is on the PUP list. S Will Allen (hamstring) is questionable.

Philadelphia: CB Cary Williams (hamstring), CB Nolan Carrol (hamstring), RB Chris Polk (hamstring) are questionable. WR Josh Huff (shoulder) is out.

Weather: Mostly cloudy. 40 percent chance showers/storm. Southeast Wind 5-10. Kickoff temperature: 77. Heat index: 80.

The Eagles will give up some points

Nick Foles is coming off a magical 2013, so when he threw two interceptions in his first preseason game, people began to wonder, Last year, he threw for 27 touchdowns passes and just two interceptions. That offense was able to produce 27.6 points pr game and 41.73 yards per contest (2nd).

In Game 2 against the Patriots, Foles played much better, completing 8 of 10 passing for 81 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions.

They also got another solid performance from Mark Sanchez, who completed 11 of 12 passes for 117 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

Rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews had a huge game last week, catching nine passes for 104 yards. Defensively, cornerback Cary Williams returned a Tom Brady interception 77 yards for a touchdown.

The Eagles' second-string defense really struggled as they allowed the Patriots to score 21 points in the third quarter. Last year, the defense allowed 394 yards per game (29th), 289.8 yards per game in the air (32nd) and 23.9 points game (17th).  In Game 2, they allowed the Patriots to amass 476 yards of total offense. In the first week, they allowed 399 yards from the Bears, but did force three turnovers.

Key Trends: Philadelphia is 4-0 ATS in Week 3.

QB Rotations
Ben Roethlisberger
Bruce Gradkowski
Landry Jones
Brendon Kay

Nick Foles
Mark Sanchez
Matt Barkley
G.J. Kinne

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Re: NFL Betting News and Notes Thursday, August 21

Steelers vs. Eagles Betting Preview and Pick
By: Craig Williams

The Steelers and Eagles meet in a Keystone State preseason battle on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network), with Las Vegas bookmakers opening Philadelphia as a field goal-plus favorite. The total here is remarkably high for an exhibition contest.

Line: Eagles -3.5, Total: 50

Line movement and notes: As of Wednesday afternoon, neither the point spread nor the total has wavered much, as -3.5 and 50 have been the consensus numbers across town all week.  The LVH, though, is flashing 51.5 for the total.  For updated spreads and total, visit our live odds board.

The total is the largest posted throughout the postseason so far, thanks largely to the Eagles' up-tempo, high-scoring offense, as well as a generous defense. They've put up an average of 31.5 points -- but have allowed 38 ppg -- in preseason losses to the Bears and Patriots, and have hit the OVER in five of six preseason contests under head coach Chip Kelly dating back to last season.

Actually winning and covering preseason contests is another story. The Eagles are 2-4 straight-up and against the spread in exhibition games under Kelly.

Philly is expected to have all of its starting wide receivers -- Jeremy Maclin (hamstring), Riley Cooper (ankle) and Jordan Matthews -- available when it kicks off against the Steelers.  Quarterback Nick Foles hasn't yet been able to go to work with all of his weapons.

On getting his full complement of receivers back, Foles offered, "It's a big deal, yeah. In the NFL you need to have timing, you need to have accuracy. When this guy is out and then this guy is out, it's tough to build on that."

Last season's rushing leader, LeSean McCoy is also expected to suit up and play a half of action despite suffering a minor toe injury, reaction to which became overblown. "I don't think he'll ever play again," Kelly joked, before conceding that the injury was not a big deal and that McCoy will be fine.

The Steelers, in general, have been a money-losing preseason proposition, going 1-5 SU and ATS since last season. But they seem to get more serious about the third week of the exhibition slate -- a dress rehearsal of sorts for the regular season, as starters play well into the thrid quarter -- when they are 5-2 under coach Mike Tomlin.

They've been consistent with the total, playing to the UNDER in five of their last six preseason contests.

Their 19-16 win against Buffalo last week -- their first preseason victory since 2012 -- was sparked by both their defense and a no-huddle offense that helped turn things around in the second half of last season.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger isn't sure how much of the no-huddle offensive coordinator Todd Haley will employ on the road, but it will be their final opportunity in the preseason to run their up-tempo offense in hostile territory.

While the Eagles have averaged over 31 points through two preseason games, the Steelers have scored a total of 35. The effectiveness of Pittsburgh's first-team offense last week suggests they're capable of more, though.

The Linemakers' lean: The first angle to look at here is the posted total of 50, which is understandably high considering the Eagles' defense has given up 76 points in two preseason games. The Eagles' offense has also put points on the board, but there should be a little more resistance from an improved Steelers defense, both their first and second stringers.

The Steelers have been running their no-huddle almost exclusively while Roethlisberger has been in the game.  That doesn’t necessarily mean a faster pace, as they have made a point of running the ball more and keeping the clock going. So we caution those jumping on the OVER again with Philly.  We look for a lower-scoring game, and we'll take the points with the Steelers.  Mike Tomlin takes the dress rehearsal game seriously -- he's 5-2 in Week 3 of the preseason over his career.

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Re: NFL Betting News and Notes Thursday, August 21

Game of the Day: Steelers at Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5, 50)

The Pittsburgh Steelers have more to deal with than just their in-state rivals Thursday night as they tangle with the host Philadelphia Eagles in the kickoff to Week 3 of the NFL preseason. Steelers running backs LeVeon Bell and LeGarrette Blount face marijuana charges after being stopped shortly before the Steelers left for Philadelphia. Bell reportedly didn't accompany the team after being arrested, but made the trip on his own; Blount did travel with the club.

With their statuses in limbo, 2014 draft pick Dri Archer may find himself thrust into the spotlight. Archer has had just four carries through the team's first two preseason games, but he has flashed some impressive skills in the receiving game with four catches for a whopping 94 yards. The Eagles will be looking to tighten up the defense after getting torched for 76 points in preseason-opening losses to the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots.

LINE HISTORY: The line has held steady at Philadelphia -3, while the over/under has risen one point to 50.

INJURY REPORT: Pittsburgh: CB Shaquille Richardson (knee), LB Greg Warren (knee), G Cody Wallace (finger), LB Jordan Zumwalt (groin), TE Eric Waters (concussion) and G Bryant Browning (shoulder) are all out. Philadelphia: C Julian Vandervelde (back), LB Bryan Braman (back), CB Jaylen Watkins (hamstring), ILB Jake Knott (hamstring), RB Chris Polk (hamstring), WR Josh Huff (shoulder) and WR Brad Smith (groin) are expected to miss the game.

WHAT CAPPERS SAY: "Pittsburgh has missed the playoffs each of the last two years following 8-8 seasons, so there will be plenty of motivation to turn things around. The defense isn’t getting any younger and after finishing first in total defense in 2012, they dropped to 13th last season. Pittsburgh needs the stop unit to get back to the powerhouse it once was but that is no guarantee." Covers Expert Matt Fargo.

ABOUT THE EAGLES (0-2): Philadelphia has hemorrhaged points over the first eight quarters of the preseason, but that won't keep head coach Chip Kelly from executing his gameplan regarding key players and their playing time. That approach will see the Eagles face Pittsburgh without inside linebacker and defensive lynch pin DeMeco Ryans, who has started all 32 regular-season games since joining the team in a 2012 trade with Houston. Kelly wants to give the 30-year-old Ryans sufficient rest heading into the campaign.

ABOUT THE STEELERS (1-1): Pittsburgh will need to refocus in the wake of the Bell and Blount arrests, and will look to do that by taking the shackles off the first-team offense in what will likely be quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's last significant tuneup before the regular season starts. Roethlisberger will likely play the entire first half against the Eagles, and is expected to get a chance to run the no-huddle offense that Pittsburgh wants to use more often this season. Roethlisberger went 8-of-11 for 128 yards and two TDs in last week's win over Buffalo.


* Pittsburgh has dropped five of its last six preseason games.
* Philadelphia is 2-4 ATS over its last six exhibition games after going 6-1-1 ATS over its previous eight.
* The Steelers are 1-6 O/U in their last seven exhibition contests.

COVERS CONSENSUS: 62.15 percent of wagers on Covers Consensus are backing the host Eagles.

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