Injuries are killing both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Diego Chargers. But it's worse for the Chargers, which could make Pittsburgh the right NFL pick this Monday.
Jason's 2015 record as of Oct. 7: 16-9 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 10-13 Total
There are four teams in the NFL who have yet to suffer a loss against the spread. Would you believe the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of those teams? They're officially 2-2 SU and 3-0-1 ATS after four games. However, that's against the closing NFL odds; here at the ranch, we successfully faded the Steelers in Week 1 versus the New England Patriots, and again last week versus the Baltimore Ravens. That's the power of shopping early.
We've also bagged a pair of NFL picks by fading the San Diego Chargers (2-2 SU, 1-3 ATS). There was Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals, and there was last Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns, who cashed in as our Best Value on the Board for Week 4. The common theme? Injuries on the offensive line, which could spell San Diego's doom this Monday night (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) when the Steelers come to town.
Keeping It 100
The sharps may be in agreement over this one. Pittsburgh opened as a 3-point road dog (+110), suggesting the market views the visitors as only slightly superior to San Diego on neutral ground. Right away, 100 percent of first responders jumped on the Steelers – as well as the OVER on the total of 45 points. It didn't take long for the consensus to balance out on the spread, although the OVER is still a unanimous choice at 45.5 points as we go to press.
Interesting. From a Pittsburgh perspective, this is mostly about QB Michael Vick. Is he qualified to lead this offense while Ben Roethlisberger is out with a sprained knee? Last Thursday's 23-20 overtime loss to Baltimore (–3 away) wasn't very promising. Things looked all right early on when the Steelers went up 20-7 in the third, but even though Vick didn't make very many mistakes, he ended up with just 124 yards passing and 33 yards rushing. Football Outsiders ranked Vick No. 29 out of 31 quarterbacks with –78 Total DYAR in Week 4.
Jumping the Shark
If there's a silver lining in there for Pittsburgh supporters, it's on third down. The Steelers only converted two of their 13 opportunities, plus they went 0-for-2 on fourth down. Some regression toward the mean can be expected this Monday, but Vick and his teammates also have to do a better job of moving the chains. That's going to be difficult with center Maurkice Pouncey (ankle) not expected back until Week 12.
And we haven't even talked about Pittsburgh's place-kicker problems yet. We'll get to that later this week when we deliver our football picks against the spread and total. In the meantime, San Diego's offensive line is in even worse shape; LT King Dunlap (concussion), LG Orlando Franklin (ankle) and center Chris Watt (groin) are all questionable to face the Steelers, and LG Johnnie Troutman (arm) is out for the season. Maybe they should consider a less dangerous sport, like shark punching, or maybe the javelin catch.