Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Arizona Cardinals Point Spread – Pick Against the Spread

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2 SU, 2-4 ATS) vs. Arizona Cardinals (1-4 SU, 2-3 ATS), 4:05 p.m. EST, Week 7 NFL, Sunday, October 23, 2011, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz. TV: CBS
by Ryno, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com

Point Spread: Pit -3.5/AZ +3.5
Over/Under Total: 41;5

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The Arizona Cardinals’ season started off well with a win over the Carolina Panthers. But since then, it has been all downhill. The Cardinals have lost four games in a row to the Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks, New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings. Now, after a bye week, the Cardinals will try to rebound at home, but it won’t be easy against the surging Pittsburgh Steelers, who have won two games in a row and four of their last five.

Despite the losing streak for the Cardinals, three of those four losses were on the road and they have been competitive at home, where they will face the Steelers on Sunday. They beat the Panthers in Week 1 at home and they lost a game they could have won at home against the Giants.

Meanwhile, the Steelers have been much worse on the road than they have been at home. The Steelers are 1-2 on the road with a blowout loss to the Baltimore Ravens, a close loss to the Houston Texans, and a close win over the winless Indianapolis Colts. But they have been very good at home with a 3-0 record, including two blowout wins. The Steelers are a different team at home than they are on the road. This bodes well for the Cardinals on Sunday.

Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall has been ineffective and most recently injured this season. But he returned last week with his best performance of the season, 146 rushing yards, including a 68-yard touchdown run, to give the Steelers a 17-13 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. When Mendenhall is running well, the Steelers are tough to stop.

Mendenhall has 317 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns on the season. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has 1,576 passing yards, nine passing touchdowns and six interceptions. Wide receiver Mike Wallace has been very effective with 33 receptions for 612 yards and four receiving touchdowns.

For the Cardinals, first-year QB Kevin Kolb has been mediocre. He has 1,281 passing yards, five passing touchdowns and six interceptions. His top target is Larry Fitzgerald, one of the most talented receivers in the league, who has 27 receptions for 427 yards and two receiving touchdowns. Early Doucet is second on the team in receiving with 21 receptions for 309 yards and a touchdown. Beanie Wells has quietly been very good at running back. In four games played, he has 381 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns.

The key for the Cardinals is to continue running the ball well and not turn it over. The Steelers notoriously have a very good defense that forces turnovers and turns them into points. If Wells can keep the Cardinals defense off the field and give his team some opportunities to score points in the red zone, the Cardinals have a great chance to win this game. For the Steelers, they need to dominate on the defensive end and keep the Cardinals off the scoreboard. The Steelers will undoubtedly score some points, regardless of whether or not Mendenhall is able to run the ball effectively. The Cardinals’ pass defense is not stellar, so Roethlisberger should be able to pick them apart. It’s just a matter of whether or not the Cardinals can score enough points, and take advantage of opportunities, to hang with the Steelers.

The Steelers are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games following an ATS loss, 6-2 ATS in their last eight games as a favorite, 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games against teams with a losing record, and 0-4 ATS in their last four road games. The Cardinals are 1-4 ATS in their last five games against teams with a winning record and 0-4 ATS in their last four October games. The over is 6-1 in the Steelers’ last seven games as a road favorite. The under is 5-1 in the Cardinals’ last six games following a bye week. The home team is 3-0-1 ATS in the last four meetings between these teams.

Ryno’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The public are absolutely hammering the Steelers. The sharps are on Arizona. Don’t get caught on the wrong side of this line. I’m taking the Cardinals plus the points.

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