Cardinals vs. Steelers NFL Picks: Side With Pittsburgh +3 at Home

Kevin Stott

Thursday, October 15, 2015 12:54 AM GMT

Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015 12:54 AM GMT

The Steelers and RB Le’Veon Bell welcome the Cardinals and QB Carson Palmer to Heinz Field on Sunday afternoon for this Week 6 inter-conference meeting. Who should we back with our NFL picks?

With Michael Vick in for Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Offense is sort of a liability right now. But does that mean automatically fading Pittsburgh until Big Ben returns sometime next month? Let’s look at some of the Trends and information surrounding this intriguing Regular Season game from the Keystone State and see if there are any decent angles and an NFL pick to be had.

 

Odds Overview
Arizona Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers [18:00] (FOX, Directv 712, NFL RedZone, 1 p.m. EDT/10 a.m. PDT): The Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2 SU, 3-0-2 ATS) welcome the upstart Arizona Cardinals (4-1 SU, 4-1 ATS) and QB Carson Palmer (37-32-3 ATS on Road) to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon for this Week 6 inter-conference affair between two of the NFL’s more underrated teams.

Oddsmakers have opened up the Cardinals as solid 3-point favorites (-110) over the Steelers (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) for this game largely because of the absence of Steelers' regular starting QB Ben Roethlisberger. The Total on this game from the Steel City has been set at 44½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) although Offshore operator Pinnacle has a 44 now hung on the betting board.

The Moneyline NFL odds here see the Cardinals priced as -175 favorites with Pittsburgh priced at +150 on the takeback (Sky Bet). The Arizona Cardinals Total Team Points has been set at 23½ (-120, bet365) while the Pittsburgh Steelers Team Total Points is set at 21 (PaddyPower). A Prop: Overtime? Yes +550, No -1200 (Paddy Power). The Advanced Line for this game—released last Tuesday night by the SuperBook— had the Cardinals as 2½-point favorites here while CGT Technology briefly had an Arizona -4 up on Monday morning.

 

Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals (190 PF-90 PA) had a surprisingly nice Regular Season last year and many—including myself—may have thought Head Coach Bruce Arians (25-12-1 ATS) and his squad were simply a Flash in the NFL Pan and that starting QB Carson Palmer would surely return from his Injury and get hurt quickly again and that this Arizona Offense would have trouble putting the ball in the End Zone again like 2014. Wrong, wrong, wrong, butter breath.

Even though the schedule has been less than challenging to date (Saints, Bears, 49ers, Rams, Lions), this team has scored the most Points in the NFL (190) and already has a gaudy +100 PD (Point Differential). This is no accident. But beware of the remainder of the schedule for Arizona (14/1 to win Super Bowl, William Hill), starting with this date in Pittsburgh where the Cardinals will be traveling from the Mountain Time Zone back to the Eastern Time Zone (EDT right now), losing 2 hours, meaning this game will start at 11 a.m. MDT in the Cardinals team Body Clocks.

For Palmer (96 completions, 1,316 yards, 13 TDs, 114.0 QBR), veteran WR Larry Fitzgerald (35 receptions, 490 yards, 6 TDs) WR John Brown (23 receptions, 301 yards, 2 TDs) and RB Chris Johnson (79 receptions, 405 yards, 2 TDs) have been the main Skill Position guys he’s used and the Cardinals Defense has been as good as it has had to be considering the strength of competition and S Rashad Johnson already has 3 Interceptions. On the Injury front, WR JJ Nelson (Shoulder), S Chris Clemons (Hamstring) and LB Sean Weatherspoon (Undisclosed) are all listed as Questionable for Arizona for this game while LB Alex Okafor (Calf) is expected to return later this month. TE Gerald Christian (Knee), TE Ifeanyi Momah (Knee) and DT Corey Peters (Achilles) are all still on the Cardinals Injured-Reserve List.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers (120 PF-96 PA) are patiently waiting for starting QB Ben Roethlisberger (MCL) to mend, so for now, this talented team will reluctantly be rolling with backup Michael Vick (37/58, 365 yards, 2 TDs) and hoping the former Virginia Tech star doesn’t get any of the Steelers receivers hurt with his awkward passes. Besides Big Ben—expected to be back for the Steelers in mid-November—Pittsburgh is also without the services of starting C Maurkice Pouncey (Left Fibula-Ankle, I-R) and W Martavis Bryant (Knee), S Will Allen (Ankle), CB Cortez Allen (Head), DT Daniel McCullers (Knee) and LB Ryan Shazier (Shoulder) who have all been listed as Questionable for this game. So, this Pittsburgh team is less than healthy right now. Along with Pouncey, TE Rob Blanchflower (Ankle), K Garrett Hartley (Hamstring), K Shaun Suisham (Knee), T Mike Adams (back) and backup QB Bruce Gradkowski (Hand) are all also on the Steelers I-R List right now. Here, expect Pittsburgh (33/1 to win Super Bowl, BetVictor) and Head Coach Mike Tomlin (70-68-2 ATS) to lean heavily on RB Le’Veon Bell (62 rushes, 302 yards, 3 TDs)—who bailed the Steelers out with a last-second, game-winning TD from the Wildcat Formation against the Chargers in San Diego on Monday night—reliable TE Heath Miller (16 receptions, 163 yards), superstar WR Antonio Brown (37 receptions, 523 yards, 2 TDs) as well as RB DeAngelo Williams, WR Markus Wheaton, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey and Bryant if he’s healthy.

The best way for the Steelers to probably use the enigmatic Vick is Rushing when possible on creative play calls (15 rushes, 52 yards) and on shorter passes which can’t leave the Pittsburgh receivers ribs exposed. Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley is responsible for devising a game plan for Vick, and so far it’s been extremely tentative and defensive, ultimately putting more pressure on Pittsburgh’s D. They can definitely do better.

 

Series Trends & Realistic Game Expectations
The last time these two teams played was in 2011 at Univeristy of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale where the Steelers won and covered, 32-20, as 4-point favorites, while the last meeting here in The Steel City was way back in 2003 where Pittsburgh won 28-15. Of note, 6 of the L7 meetings in this series have been played outside of the city of Pittsburgh—five in Arizona (3 at Sun Devil Stadium, 2 at Univerity of Phoenix Stadium) and one at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Super Bowl XLIII, won by the Steelers, 27-23 (Steelers -7).

This one could end up being an entertaining game and will could definitely hold some significance come Wild Card time, and the absence of Roethlisberger will (again) loom large for the hosts. But have no doubt about it—the Steelers (5 Days Rest) can win this game and will have the overpowering Homefield advantage. Arizona winning in Pittsburgh will be much tougher than the number (Point Spread) indicates, and the Cardinals are taking a step up in competition here after facing New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco, St. Louis and Detroit in Weeks 1-5.

Predicted Final Score: Arizona Cardinals 24 Pittsburgh Steelers 23

NFL Picks: Steelers +3 (-110) at Bookmaker

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