NFL Week 10 – Patriots Vs. Steelers (-4.5)

Was the Patriots’ loss to the Browns last week truly an aberration,or is this New England team not as good as the betting public perceived?

The Patriots are on the road for the second straight week againstanother AFC North opponent in the Steelers. The team comes off anembarrassing loss, having allowed the Browns to rush for 230 yardsagainst the defensive unit. Quarterback Tom Brady hasn’t done much ofnote in the last several games. In fact, Brady has only thrown for anaverage of 215 yards per game this season. Now, Brady has to deal withthe pass rush of the Pittsburgh Steelers, which has been solid againstthe run and pass.

The argument could be made that the Steelers aren’t much better onoffense with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back under center.Pittsburgh’s defense is still performing well, allowing fewer than 300total yards per game through Week 9, but the offense is a differentstory. The Steelers turned the ball over five times on offense throughthe first four games this season without Roethlisberger, compared toseven turnovers in the games with Big Ben. Backup Charlie Batch had thesame win/loss record and the same amount of interceptions asRoethlisberger in the same number of games against arguably tougheropponents in the Ravens, Falcons, Titans and Bucs.

Bessire’s Take: “I think the general public is finally starting torealize that the Patriots defense, especially against the pass, is notvery good. This line opened essentially favoring Pittsburgh due tohome-field advantage, but that number has crept up to 4.5, which is rarein general, let alone to move in the direction of a team on a shortweek. The line still has not moved far enough. The Steelers have atremendous matchup advantage in this game: Their offense against thePatriots’ defense. Pittsburgh has played the second-toughest schedule ofany team to date, yet ranks second in our passing offense metrics and14th running the ball. New England has played the 12th toughest scheduleof any team in 2010 and ranks 28th against the pass and 18th againstthe run. Since the Patriots offense against the Steelers defense isessentially a wash, look for the Steelers to put up big offensivenumbers in winning this game by a touchdown or more.” Take: “The Sunday night event could not ask for abetter matchup with both teams having a huge national following. TheSteelers opened as a 4-point favorite and have settled at 5 points inthe middle of the week. Don’t be fooled the money came early onPittsburgh; 5 points is a dead number and the book is trying to takeadvantage of the public. expects to close this game with Pittsburgh at a 4-point advantage.”

The Pick: Steelers -4.5: I hate picking against my personal rootinginterest twice in as many weeks, but you have to make bets with yourmind, not your heart. Brady has thrown four interceptions all season,but they all came during games against the Jets and Ravens, which manysay have defenses that are on par with the Steelers.