The Niners travel to Heinz Field after an opening week win while the Steelers are licking their wounds after dropping their opener. Let’s analyze the NFL odds & find the right side for our NFL picks.
San Francisco 49ers (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS)
The 49ers didn’t miss a beat last week with Carlos Hyde in the backfield replacing Frank Gore who took his talents to Indianapolis in the offseason. Hyde chewed up the Vikings to the tune of 168-yards and a pair of trips into the endzone. It was a career day for Hyde and a sign that San Francisco could be lethal on the ground this season, taking away much of the workload for an overburdened Colin Kaepernick. It was also a new chapter for the 49ers who parted with longtime coach Jim Harbaugh and handed the reins to Jim Tomsula. It appears at first blush that a new approach was exactly what was needed in the Bay Area.
San Francisco has holes in its secondary but the fact that NaVorro Bowman is back in the fold at linebacker after sustaining a devastating knee injury in January of ’14 is a welcome addition. The 49’ers bottled up Adrian Peterson for a mere 31 yards on 10 carries and that has to give this defense a lift. In addition to the run stop unit the pass rush was fierce as San Francisco was able to sack Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater on five occasions with Bowman joining in the fun with one of his own to go along with seven tackles.
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS)
The Steelers’ opening day loss to the Patriots saw a defense that refused to cover the most prolific tight end in the game’s history in Rob Gronkowski. There were no double teams and at times the All-Pro wandered in open space without a defender in sight. Moreover, New England’s slot receiver Julian Edelman roamed with reckless abandon as well, chewing up yardage and moving the first-down markers.
The Steelers can’t be faulted for losing on the road to the defending Super Bowl champs but if it were not for a garbage time TD by Antonio Brown this would have been a lopsided affair where the scoreboard would have told the true tale of the game. But if there is a bright side to all of this we can look at the 464 yards gained by the Pittsburgh offense which came minus All-Pros Maurkice Pouncey (injured), suspended tailback Le’Veon Bell and receiver Martavis Bryant. The additions of those three players alone could very well have changed the fortunes of their opening game but the Steelers’ detached defense of New England’s offensive juggernaut cannot be excused.
The NFL odds makers have installed Pittsburgh as a six-point home favorite which at first look seems a bit skewed towards the Steelers based on the results from Week 1. But let’s think about the fact that the Niners are coming off a Monday night victory over the Vikings and now must fly across country on a short week. I also believe that the Steelers will do a competent enough job of stifling the 49ers ground attack that will be unable to keep up with Roethlisberger to Brown or whomever he decides to target.
While I would not bet the rent on this game I do believe the Steelers will be loaded for bear after their Week 1 loss and eager to get on the winning track versus a 49ers club that is not as dominating as their opening week performance would suggest. Roethlisberger vs. Kaepernick? I’ll take Big Ben at home over Kaepernick any day with my NFL pick… especially on a short week for the visitors.
NFL Pick: Play the Steelers -6 at JustBet