Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4) at New York Jets (3-2)
The bye week might have been exactly what the Steelers needed. They sit at 0-4, but they get as healthy as they can be during the bye, with veterans resting up and guys like Heath Miller and Le’Veon Bell getting extra time to get back to full strength. I still don’t think they’ll be as this bad all season. They’re getting destroyed in the turnover battle with a -11 turnover margin that is one of the worst in the NFL. However, that type of thing tends to even out in the long run.
They won’t suddenly be good at winning the turnover battle going forward, but they won’t continue on this pace. At -11 through 4 games, they are averaging -2.8 per game, a -45 pace, which would destroy the modern day record of -30. Even if they are destined to become the worst turnover margin team in NFL history (I don’t think they will be), they’ll be significantly better in this aspect going forward. They won’t continue recovering just 18.2% of fumbles that hit the ground. Meanwhile, their talented defense, which has forced 22 punts to 74 takeaways, will eventually start taking the ball away, after not doing so once in their first 4 games.
The Jets aren’t good in takeaways either, at -9 on the season, but their turnover problems are more interception than fumble based. Geno Smith has 8 interceptions on 156 attempts and I don’t think it would be ridiculous if he continues throwing a bunch of interceptions. He’s a rookie quarterback who likes to force things downfield. When it works it’s great, when it doesn’t, well, not so much.
If he were to reduce his turnover rate, it would probably be at the expense of some of the things he’s doing well, like averaging 8.3 yards per attempt. They aren’t doing well recovering fumbles either, recovering 33.3%, and their talented defense (82 first downs allowed, 34 punts forced) will force more than 3 turnovers in their next 5 games, so their turnover margin should be better going forward. However, the Steelers are the ones more underrated because of their turnover margin in this matchup.
Speaking of the Jets, they’re in a bad spot after last week’s huge win. Since 2002, teams are 46-66 ATS off of a win as double digit underdogs, including 17-27 ATS off of a win by 3 or fewer points. Going off of that, home favorites are 25-51 ATS since 2002 after winning by 3 or fewer points as road dogs. After a huge upset win in dramatic fashion last week, it’s understandable that they could be flat for a 0-4 team. They could also be caught looking forward to a huge divisional matchup with the Patriots next week. I really like the Steelers’ chances of pulling the upset.
Pittsburgh Steelers 17 New York Jets 9 Upset Pick +125
Pick against spread: Pittsburgh +2.5
Confidence: Pick of the Week