Philadelphia Eagles (1-2-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0)
The Eagles got their first win of the season last week in San Francisco, but they were facing a very banged up 49ers team and got lucky that they won the turnover battle by 2 on a pair of terrible interceptions by 49ers backup quarterback Nick Mullens that swung what ended up being just a 5-point Eagles win. Turnover margins are highly inconsistent on a week-to-week basis anyway (the Eagles were -7 in the first 3 weeks of the season) and the Eagles lost the first down rate battle in that game by 6.10%, giving them a 29th ranked -5.19% first down rate differential on the season, despite the fact that they haven’t faced a particularly tough schedule.
This game in Pittsburgh is arguably the toughest game of the Eagles’ season so far. The Steelers are 3-0 and, though they haven’t been quite as good as their record, with their wins all being close and a 15th ranked first down rate differential on the season (+0.87%), their defense has still been one of the best in the league, ranking 5th with a 34.43% first down rate allowed, while their 26th ranked offense (35.29%) should be better going forward, especially with top offensive lineman David DeCastro healthy after missing the first two games of the season.
Despite that, the Eagles are only touchdown underdogs in this game. I have this line calculated at Pittsburgh -10, as the Eagles are one of the worst teams in the league and are 8.5 points behind the Steelers in my roster rankings, so we’re getting good line value with the Steelers. The Eagles are also in a tough spot as they have an even tougher game on deck at home against the Ravens. Big upcoming home games like that tend to serve as a distraction, as teams are 37-60 ATS since 2016 before being home underdogs of 6 or more. It’s even tougher for teams when it is back-to-back tough games, as teams are 51-73 ATS since 2016 as underdogs of 6 or more before being underdogs of 6 or more again the following week. I don’t love the Steelers, but they’re worth a bet at -7 and I’d consider a larger bet at 6.5. It’s going to be tough for the Eagles to keep this one close.
Pittsburgh Steelers 24 Philadelphia Eagles 13
Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh -7