Steelers vs. Giants NFL Preseason Picks

Jason Lake

Friday, August 8, 2014 3:25 PM UTC

Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 3:25 PM UTC

The 'under' hasn’t been a very good preseason NFL pick in recent years, but if any of these Week 1 games is going to shimmy under the posted total, it might be the Pittsburgh Steelers against the New York Giants. 

Have you read my preseason NFL betting guide yet? If so, you’re already on board with the coach-centric approach we’re taking with these exhibition games. And you’re aware that the 'over' went 11-5 ATS during Week 1 of the 2013 preseason. So what happens when you run into a coach with a solid 'under' record in Week 1 games? You go with the coach, of course. He’s the one running the show.

The coach in question is Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’ll be working the sidelines Saturday night (7:30 p.m. ET) at the New Meadowlands against Tom Coughlin and the New York Giants. The G-Men have already played in the Hall of Fame Game, so they’re pretty much an automatic spread pick in this matchup, even if Coughlin is just 36-33-4 ATS in the preseason (Tomlin is 14-14-1 ATS, by the way). But I already went over the HOF betting angle with the Buffalo Bills, so let’s look at those NFL totals instead, where Tomlin has the 'under' at 17-11-1 in exhibition play, including 6-1 in Week 1.


In My Tribe
The Steelers have a tradition of playing blue-collar, smashmouth football – and of hiring head coaches in their 30s. Although he was a tight end at William and Mary and started his coaching career working with wide receivers, Tomlin switched sides in 1997 when Arkansas State converted him into a defensive backs coach. He quickly moved up the ranks from there, joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as DB coach in 2001 and winning Super Bowl XXXVII the following season.

It was also Tomlin’s second season as the Steelers head coach when they won Super Bowl XLIII. Pittsburgh already had plenty of talent, having just won the 2005 championship under Bill Cowher, so the emphasis with Tomlin’s hire was on keeping the ball rolling. That means defense, a whole lot of running, and low-scoring games. All that’s missing is the leather helmets.


Colonel Coughlin
We saw one of those low-scoring games in Week 1 of the 2013 preseason, and guess what, it was against the Giants. Pittsburgh lost that one 18-13 at home, sliding under the 36-point total with room to spare. There was a nice 57-yard TD catch by Victor Cruz in the first quarter, but then the starters came out and that was about it for offense. The Steelers were busy establishing the run and trying to work out the bugs in their special teams. It wasn’t much of a game.

Tom Coughlin and the Giants were complicit in this. He’s about as old-school as they get, having played halfback alongside Larry Csonka and Floyd Little at Syracuse. Coughlin stuck with offense during his rise up the coaching ladder, which included three formative years as the Giants WR coach under Bill Parcells. The similarities between the two are mind-boggling, although Coughlin might be even more of a curmudgeon, if that’s possible. Parcells won his first Super Bowl in Year Four with the Giants; so did Coughlin. Parcells won his second Super Bowl in Year Eight; so did Coughlin.

Also: Parcells had Phil Simms, and Coughlin has Eli Manning. It’s easy to forget how good the Giants offense has been since the Coughlin-Manning Era began in 2004 – especially after the wheels fell off the wagon last year and the offense landed with a thud at No. 31 on Football Outsider’s efficiency charts. Coughlin still has the 'under' at 29-27 during his preseason career, though, so we can go ahead and hit those NFL totals behind Tomlin.

Free NFL Pick: Take under 37 (–105) at Pinnacle

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