NFL Picks: Bears vs. Steelers in Week 3

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 4:16 PM GMT

With the Steelers 0-2 for the first time in 11 years, they will not have a bye week like did in 2002 to reboot the season and are back home for a Sunday Night showdown with Chicago whose been clutch when it mattered for a 2-0 start.

Check out our NFL Week 3 Betting Odds Report for additional information on this week's games!

Under Bill Cowher, Pittsburgh began the year 0-2 on three different occasions and failed to have a winning record after three games eight of his 13 seasons as the Steelers head coach, but managed to have only two losing seasons. Since Chuck Noll turned the Pittsburgh franchise from a loser into a winner, it has always been about being consistent and giving your all wearing the black and gold uniform. Will their effort be worthy of your Week 3 NFL picks?

This Time Feels Different

Except for a few series, Pittsburgh does not look like a playoff caliber team. The offensive line has been replenished with high draft choices the last few years, but the general results have been unsatisfactory. Steelers’ football has been predicated on running the ball and last year they were 26th in yards per game and are next to last rushing the ball this season.

As great as Ben Roethlisberger has been his entire career, he cannot do it alone and he needs time to throw and the threat of the run to be successful.

ESPN’s John Gruden was effusive in praising the aging Pittsburgh defense against Cincinnati during Monday Night Football, yet the Steelers were still gouged for 407 yards despite limiting the Bengals to 20 points and they have forced zero turnovers after two games.

Pittsburgh lost four of their last six to finish off 2012, was winless in the preseason and they are 0-2. Something is not right in the Steel City.

"Mr. Fourth Quarter" is Leading Chicago

Jay Cutler is more known for his ability to throw the football great distances from poor angles than he is for being an elite quarterback. Cutler is seldom thought of a savior and has made more than his fair share to ridiculous plays for Chicago.

This belief is changing quickly with Marc Trestman the head coach, convincing his squad there are four quarters with 15 minutes in each, giving them time to win even if the situations appears bleak.

Under Lovie Smith, the Bears were 12-50 when trailing after three quarters. Already, Cutler has led his Monsters of the Midway to two last period comebacks, which led to receiver Brandon Marshall dubbing his quarterback, "Mr. Fourth Quarter".

Matchup Numbers

For this NBC affair, Chicago was made a 2.5-point favorite with a total of 39.5 in the NFL odds. Since its release, the Bears have been at the original number or -2 and the total has moved a smidge to 40. These combatants have met five times in the past two decades with Pittsburgh 3-2 with two covers. The Steelers have taken both home games (1-1 ATS).

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What to Watch For

Coach Mike Tomlin needs to build up the confidence of his scuffling squad and convince them that running the ball will lead to a victory over Chicago. The O-Line not only has to get a push, but provide holes and the most talented back on the roster Felix Jones has to be hit the crease hard, in search of second and short plays and first downs.

The Pittsburgh receivers have to “want” the ball to help Big Ben in the passing game.

While Cutler is developing a new persona, pressure will still have him revert to his old ways and the Steelers defense has to attack him.

When a team is down like Pittsburgh, the best game plan for Chicago is to go right after the Steelers aggressively on both sides of the ball.

Offensively, spread the ball around to Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte and Culter’s new security blanket, tight end Martellus Bennett. Make Pittsburgh defend the run and all three levels in the passing game.

Without the constant threat of a running game, the Bears can focus their attention on blanketing the Steelers receivers, who are fast, but average route-runners.

Final Outcome

It does not always work this way, yet, often, desperate teams do come up with big performances and Pittsburgh fits the bill. Chicago has won twice and showed real determination; nonetheless, they could have just as easily lost both times. Let’s take the underdog who is 19-8 ATS at home after a division loss, for our sports picks.

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NFL Pick: Pick the Pittsburgh Steelers on the spread, +2.5 (-105) at Ladbrokes

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