Pittsburgh Steelers vs. San Francisco 49ers Best Bet
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS) vs. San Francisco 49ers (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS)
NFL Week 3
Date/Time: Sunday, September 22, 2019 at 4:25PM EDT
Where: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California
Point Spread: PIT +6.5/SF -6.5 (Bovada)
Over/Under Total: 44.5
The Pittsburgh Steelers come to Levi’s Stadium on Sunday afternoon for a big week three face-off with the San Francisco 49ers. It is the Niners who are 2-0, riding high after getting off to a fast start to the season with two road wins. Now with a home game, a bye-week, and another home game, they can dig in at home and further their position. Coming into town is a dangerous Pittsburgh team, a proud organization that is facing a near-crisis scenario at 0-2, having lost Ben Roethlisberger for the season. Desperate for a win, can they rise to the occasion on the road? Or will the 49ers, opening at home for what should be an enthusiastic crowd, show that they’re for real?
Big Week for the Steelers
Even if you were inclined to forgive the Steelers for their opening-week clunker at New England, it was an alarming sign to see them flail their way to a 33-3 loss. With a chance to make it right against Seattle, they saw Ben Roethlisberger go down with an injured elbow, forcing second-year QB Mason Rudolph into his first NFL action. He threw two TDs, but also threw a pick and wasn’t able to keep pace with the Seahawks. Going to 0-3 would be a disaster. There is a lot on the line this week. And going against a hot Frisco bunch in a stadium which they are unaccustomed in a home-opener wouldn’t appear to be the best recipe for success. Can Rudolph step in there and show the Steelers that they have a good QB waiting in the wings? Or is this where we start to see this team fall apart?
A Good Start or a Good Team?
Winning twice on the road is excellent for San Fran and you couldn’t ask for a better start—two wins by 14 and 24 points, respectively. Against Tampa, they were behind at halftime to win by two TDs, before blowing out Cincy. But wins over the Bucs and Bengals do not signal a revival of the franchise. But there are ample signs of life—the good health of the franchise quarterback, a blossoming run-game, and a defense healthy enough to start developing a rhythm. On offense, they have a diverse approach, with Jimmy Garoppolo working with a varied cast of weapons. With Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, and Jeff Wilson, Jr., the run-game is diverse. And they haven’t even really gotten TE George Kittle or receivers Marquise Goodwin started yet. Rookie Deebo Samuel has shown good signs. Mostert, when healthy, is a real big-play threat and on Sunday had a 39-yard TD reception from Garoppolo.
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Can Pittsburgh Defense Rebound?
At home, they look to flex that ground-game against a Pittsburgh defense that has been beaten up through two weeks. IF ever this “D” needed to step up, now would be the time. After being taken apart by the Patriots’ offense, they less-forgivably failed to keep it together at home against Seattle. After taking the lead at the half, they lost their resistance against the Seattle run-game. And as they were dissected in the secondary against the Pats, they also fell prey to Russell Wilson, who had 300 yards and three TDs on 29-for-35 passing. Other than urgency and desperation, what answer will they have this week? This wasn’t the direction they were supposed to be heading. Maybe it’s the wayward offense, or they just had two bad matchups to start the season, but the pressure is on for this side of the ball in week three. Maybe they can bring a lot more fire to the Niners’ offense than the Bucs and Bengals were able to the first two weeks of the season. At least last Sunday, the Pittsburgh pass-rush came to life, with Stephon Tuitt getting 2.5 sacks and TJ Watt getting one. Still, it’s been slim pickings.
The Urgency Component
In this league, a team can’t simply will itself to perform feats for which they are incapable. At the same time, Pittsburgh has their backs against the wall and should put forth a solid effort at the very least. But after beating Tampa and Cincinnati, this is more of a proving-ground for San Francisco, and a win over a Pittsburgh team that has its back against the wall would make a statement. Pittsburgh won’t be the only ones pushing for a win.
A Stiffer Test for the San Francisco “D”
The 49ers have allowed 17 points in each of their first two games. They’re getting after the quarterback. Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, and Dee Ford are all recording sacks. They have five turnovers so far. We’re seeing a defense with a lot of high draft picks, key free agent signings, and talented youngsters starting to round into shape. And for the first time in several years, they’re relatively intact health-wise, though Ford left the game Sunday with a banged-up knee. But after facing the mistake-prone Bucs’ offense and a Bengals’ offense still trying to find its legs, they potentially face more menace this week. JuJu Smith-Schuster hasn’t gotten untracked yet, nor has James Conner, who also got hurt on Sunday and left the game. This offense is suddenly looking a lot less-automatic, and they have to prove they’re a viable unit without Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Now without Big Ben, this offense bears no resemblance to its former status.
Take the Home Team
Pittsburgh is desperate, and that can’t be discounted. They have a lot on the line this week. I was wrong about them in each of the first two games, and I could see where maybe I’m just timing them wrong, so naturally, they’ll handily cover this week, right? But I see the offense’s troubles being real, especially with Roethlisberger gone, while the defense has lost its upward trajectory so dramatically that it can’t be reclaimed in one week. I see this as being a spot where San Francisco can make a real mark. I like them to get the big win at home on Sunday.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the San Francisco 49ers minus 6.5 points.
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