So yeah, the Patriots.
New England -7 was our pick yesterday, and once Tebow and the Broncos scored on that opening drive I thought I would be in trouble. Twitter exploded with TEBOW! tweets, everyone was throwing dirt on the Patriots, and I have to admit I was a little nervous. Even the boss had a case of Tebow Fever…
But I’ve learned in my long life of gambling that there are a few quarterbacks who are never out of a game. And Tom Brady is definitely on that list.
And like I expected, the Patriots turned it on, got themselves a 27-13 halftime lead and never looked back. It got tight in the 4th, with a score of 34-23 with around 9 minutes left. Was I looking at a backdoor cover from Denver? I sure was feeling like it would happen…
But Gisele’s husband took his guys down the field for a TD to seal the win and the cover. That win moved us to 2-0 on the weekend and 20-16 overall.
And yes, It was kind of awkward when I ran into Spike in the breakroom this morning at SpikeEskin.com headquarters, he didn’t even make eye contact with me. Poor guy, Tebow broke his heart.
All in all it was a great game. Sure, the Broncos lost but they lost to a better team. Denver definitely has talent, and they could do some damage early in the playoffs. Keep an eye on them.
And how about those Birds! Damn, 44-19. Who saw that coming? Shady with 3 TD’s and another 100 yards, 17 TD’s on the season. For all of the Eagles flaws this season, LeSean McCoy was one of the few consistent bright spots.
So, the Eagles are still alive for the division (thanks, Redskins). Next week they go to Dallas and the opening line is Dallas -3. It’s gonna be a fight, but does Tony Romo scare you? He doesn’t scare me. The Giants are playing the Jets (Jets are 3 point favorites), and that one will be a battle too.
But we’ve survived to fight another week and that’s all that matters.
Now onto the Monday Night pick…
As MNF matchups go this is one of the best we could ask for. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) head out west to play the San Francisco 49ers (10-3). Two great teams, both still fighting for playoff seeding, primed and ready to bang heads.
The line right now is 49ers -1.5, O/U 38.
The status of Ben Roethlisberger is unknown right now, but I’m writing this assuming he plays but it really doesn’t matter to my pick, I like the UNDER 38 tonight.
This is a matchup of two very good defenses, but if you follow football at all you already knew that. Pittsburgh comes in as the 9th ranked defense, San Francisco is 3rd ranked.
With or without Roethlisberger I think the Steelers offense will have trouble moving the ball on a very good San Francisco defense. And when the 49ers have the ball, Pittsburgh should be able to contain Frank Gore and Alex Smith and keep them out of the end zone.
James Harrison is out for the Steelers, serving his one game suspension for hitting Colt McCoy in the head. And for San Francisco, Patrick Willis is out with a hamstring injury. So both teams are missing a top defensive player, but there are still enough defensive weapons on both teams to still keep this game low scoring.
When the 49ers played Baltimore on Thanksgiving night it was another matchup of two great defensive teams, that game ended with the Ravens winning 16-6. And this game could play out the same way. Long, sustained drives, and teams settling for field goals. Whoever gets into the end zone will win.
The 49ers have not given up a 100 yards rushing in 35 straight games, they only allow 70 rushing yards per game, and they haven’t allowed a rushing TD this season. Wow. So don’t expect much from Rashard Mendenhall.
Both teams still have incentive to win. The 49ers need a win get to 11-3 and stay on pace with New Orleans for the #2 seed in the playoffs. The Steelers came into this weekend tied with Baltimore atop the AFC East at 10-3, and with the Ravens losing last night this is a chance for them to open up a one game lead that could be enough to get them the division title.
I’m thinking both teams play conservative and try not to make mistakes, and that game plan points to the UNDER. That is also the most obvious play statistically, considering that both teams rank #1 and #2 in points allowed per game, (49ers – 14.0, Steelers – 15.2). Both teams are averaging low 20’s in offensive points scored per game. So both teams being under 20 points tonight is a definite possibility.
The Steelers are a very good team, and Ben will probably play and keep the gameplan conservative. But I don’t think they can break through the 49ers rushing defense, and a hobbled Roethlisberger may have trouble making things happen with that 49ers d-line breathing down his neck all night.
But Pittsburgh has a solid defense as well, even without Harrison, and they should be able to shut down the 49ers. Frank Gore has had a rough stretch lately, he hasn’t broken 100 yards in his past 5 games. Alex Smith has a decent passer rating (91.5) but he only has 15 passing TD’s on the season and I don’t expect him to light up a good Steelers pass defense (6th ranked v. pass).
In this pretty even matchup I think the 49ers are a little better on defense and they will find a way to build off of the home field advantage and squeak out a win. But regardless of the outcome, this one should be a real battle and a fun game to watch.
I’ll say that the 49ers win a low scoring game, San Francisco 17-13.
The Line: 49ers -1.5, O/U 38
The Pick: UNDER 38
Game trends (via Covers.com): Steelers: 6-2 UNDER last 8 games as an underdog; 49ers: 6-2 UNDER in their last 8 games
Season Record: 20-16. You can see all my picks for the 2011 season documented here.
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