Seattle Seahawks vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Point Spread – Pick ATS

Seattle Seahawks (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS), Week 2 NFL, 1:00 p.m. EST, Sunday, September 18, 2011, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pa. TV: CBS
by Ryno, Football Handicapper,

Point Spread: Sea +14.5/PIT -14.5
Over/Under Total: 38.5

Week 1 in Baltimore wasn’t exactly a Pittsburgh Steelers-like performance. The Steelers are universally considered – no matter how much anyone may dislike them – one of the best teams in the AFC and a perennial contender to reach the Super Bowl. But that’s not what they resembled on Sunday, losing 35-7 at the Ravens to start the season. Luckily for Ben Roethlisberger and crew, the Steelers get the pleasure of facing the Seattle Seahawks at home on Sunday, a team not expected to be overly competitive this season.

The Seahawks have more-or-less career backup Tarvaris Jackson under center for a team that snuck into the playoffs last season by winning the miserable NFC West with a 7-9 record. They then shocked everyone by defeating the New Orleans Saints in the wild card round of the NFC playoffs. But these Seahawks have lower expectations, despite having solid running back Marshawn Lynch in the backfield and newly acquired wide out Sidney Rice, who came over from the Minnesota Vikings, where he once teamed with Jackson, the Seahawks new starting QB.

The Seahawks started their season with a 33-17 road loss at the San Francisco 49ers in which they fell behind 16-0 at the half. Jackson threw two TD passes and an interception, completing 21 of 37 pass attempts for 197 yards. But they couldn’t get much of a running game going, as Lynch totaled just 33 rushing yards and the team had a total of just 64 rushing yards. Jackson’s INT wasn’t his only turnover -he also gave away two fumbles.

If it weren’t for the turnovers and special teams woes, the Seahawks might’ve hung in long enough to pull off a victory. They only allowed 85 rushing yards and 124 passing yards. A 3-0 turnover differential was bad, but still the Seahawks found themselves down just 19-17 with 3:56 left in the fourth quarter after a 55-yard TD pass from Jackson to Doug Baldwin. But then, Ted Ginn Jr. took over on special teams for the 49ers. He returned the ensuing kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown and then followed that up a minute later with a 55-yard punt return for a TD. Special teams and turnovers killed the Seahawks in San Francisco.

The Steelers would have been ecstatic with three turnovers. They sealed their fate with an uncanny seven turnovers against the Ravens. Roethlisberger had five turnovers himself – he threw three interceptions and lost two fumbles – and Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore each lost a fumble as well. The Ravens, on the other hand, committed no turnovers. That stat alone is enough to know who won the game. It was an ugly one for the Steelers.

Roethlisberger threw for 280 yards and a touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders, while Mendenhall ran for just 45 yards. Mike Wallace put in a nice receiving performance in the loss with eight catches for 1-7 yards. The Steelers allowed 170 rushing yards (107 to Ray Rice) and 224 yards passing yards (Flacco also threw for three TDs). There’s really no other way to break out this game than to say that the Steelers shot themselves in the foot with constant turnovers.

At home with a bad taste in their mouths, the Steelers will most certainly come out fired up in this game. They want and need to pull even at 1-1 and make a statement that their Week 1 embarrassment was a fluke. They will need to establish Mendenhall on the ground early and control the game on both sides of the ball. Their defense needs to dominate, and should be able to dominate an offense led by Tavaris Jackson that lacks much firepower.

The Seahawks have to force turnovers, like the Ravens did last week against the Steelers, and limit their offensive turnovers. If they can win the turnover battle and the time of possession battle, they will have a chance to pull off the upset. But it won’t be easy at all on the road against an experienced, hungry, motivated team.

Ryno’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Pittsburgh would have to play an absolutely perfect game to cover a 3 score line (14.5) which I dont think will happen. Double digit NFL underdogs have been good bets historically. Take the Seachickens plus the points.

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