After their bye week was moved to Week 4 because of the Tennessee Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak, the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0) are set to host the Philadelphia Eagles (1-2-1) in the battle of Pennsylvania.
The Eagles lost their first two games against Washington and the L.A. Rams, tied with the Cincinnati Bengals, then went on the road to beat San Francisco 25-20 on Sunday Night Football. Meanwhile, the Steelers cruised past the New York Giants, Denver, and Houston for a strong start to their season.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 P.M. Eastern at Heinz Field. The Steelers are seven-point favorites, with the over/under set at 44 points.
Philadelphia Eagles – Stay Dialed In
Philadelphia’s season thus far has been a major disappointment. Some have considered whether quarterback Carson Wentz is still the right person to lead the team. A loss to the Washington Football Team and a tie with the Bengals left a bitter taste in fans’ mouths. Their only win came against an injured 49ers team playing their third-string quarterback,
That’s not to say the Eagles haven’t had their own injuries to deal with; DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery have been out hurt (both are out against the Steelers), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox has been missing practice and limited in games, and offensive linemen Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce have been banged up. Rookie wide receiver Jalen Reagor, along with tight end Dallas Goedert and tackle Jason Peters, are all on injured reserve.
The Eagles are left with a patchwork unit limping along towards their Week 9 bye. Their next two games against the Steelers and Ravens may be the two toughest games on the schedule, with games against the Giants and Dallas Cowboys leading into the bye week.
Somehow, despite the injuries and putrid performance, the Eagles are in first place in the abysmal NFC East. By virtue of their tie with Cincinnati, Philadelphia has a half-game lead over Washington and Dallas.
The bright spot for the Eagles has been their defense. They are tied for the league-lead with 17 sacks through four games. They aren’t a turnover machine, averaging one per game, but the Eagles rank in the top 10 fewest yards allowed per game.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Back in the Groove
When the NFL forced the Steelers to move their bye week to Week 4, resulting in 13 straight games to close out the season, head coach Mike Tomlin didn’t mince words: “We do not care.” That kind of composed confidence is part of the reason the Steelers have won eight games or more through all 13 seasons Tomlin has been their coach.
Ben Roethlisberger is healthy and slinging the ball as strong as ever. He has completed 67% of his passes for 777 yards, seven touchdowns, and one interception. Wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson are both healthy and expected to play against the Eagles.
Rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool has burst onto the scene, averaging more than 25 yards per reception. That number is inflated by his 84-yard score against Denver in Week 2, but even without that reception, Claypool would be just over 13 yards per reception.
He is also second on the team in yards and touchdowns behind Smith-Schuster. The Steelers are still figuring out how best to use him, which was difficult without the preseason. Claypool is poised for a breakout game against Philadelphia on Sunday now that Pittsburgh has seen what he can do.
The Steelers defense has been lights-out to start the season. They’ve allowed the second-fewest yards per game and fifth-fewest points per game. Pittsburgh’s 15 sacks are third in the NFL, spurred on by linebacker T.J. Watt, who has 3.5 sacks. Watt also has an interception and has two pass defends. Expect Watt to feast on an injured Eagles offense.
The Pick Is In
Philadelphia won the last matchup against Pittsburgh 35-3, but that was back in 2016, and lead the all-time series 48-28-3. Unfortunately, the Eagles are too injured and too mediocre to keep up with a talented Steelers team. Pittsburgh will advance to 4-0 with a win, and they’ll cover the spread as well.
FREE PICK: Pittsburgh Steelers (-7)