NFL Preseason Showdown: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. …

Two of the most talked about teams in the league get set to square off in a preseason battle in the Keystone State, as the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) host the Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) in a meeting for the first time since the 2008 season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers march into tonight’s match-up looking for some exhibition redemption after a rare offensive battering at the hands of Rex Grossman and the Washington Redskins last Friday. The Redskins managed to outgain the Steelers 452 yards to 186, and although the scoring remained subdued at 16-7 in favor of Washington, there’s certainly a lot of focus on the famed Steeler defense in tonight’s match-up against perhaps the most talents and deep offensive units in the league. Fortunate for them this evening, while they’ll be short one cornerback in Ike Taylor who will sit out with a broken thumb, they’ll also fire up defensive cornerstones Troy Polamalu and James Harrison for tonight’s game after Polamalu sat all of Week 1, and Harrison played in few defensive series.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles roll into tonight’s match-up after quietly managing the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1, by a score of 13-6. As expected, Michael Vick was in for just one series, however with the Steelers’ camp stating that their starters could see as much as 25 snaps in tonight’s game, count on Philadelphia to also put out their starting corps on both sides of the ball to counter for an equal amount of time. We’ll also get to see more of the highly talented secondary consisting of Asante Samuel and newcomers Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie, who along with Cullen Jenkins and Jason Babin should make a formidable defensive opponent for the Ben Rothlisberger-led Pittsburgh offense.

Betting lines at Bodog Sportsbook find the Pittsburgh Steelers at a -3 point favorite with -105 odds, mainly based on the compiled 8-2 record in their last 10 games against the spread at home at Heinz Field in the preseason. There’s much on the line in this preseason series with plenty of pride at stake between the two Pennsylvania teams, and with the record standing at 17-17-1 all time in exhibition play, don’t assume that this will merely be another chance for both teams to test out their newly acquired assets and hold tryouts for making the team. While Pittsburgh has been great at home in the preseason, it’s evident that most fans find the Eagles to be the better team in tonight’s match-up, with currently over 80% of the betting audience siding with Philadelphia. That certainly may give the Steeler’s D, and more importantly the Steeler’s offensive line (which was very shaky in Week 1) something to stand up against, so expect a much better performance from both of the Steelers units this evening.

Our pick to Win:

With the Eagles much improved this offseason, it’s their time to step up and grab a win in this preseason series. Michael Vick and the Eagles offense should be able to use their speed and agility to put up enough early points to secure a win, and with the +3 points given to them on the spread, they certainly look to be the most appealing bet, even on the road at Pittsburgh. Look for the Eagles to secure a close win, 17-13 tonight.

Take note of the interesting over/under mark at 34 points (-110 odds for either over or under). While the Eagles have played in 9 games eclipsing the total points mark in their last 12 preseason games, the Steelers have seen 7 of 9 preseason games go under total points. However, with Philadelphia new on just about equal grounds defensively against Pittsburgh in the preseason, expect the starters to produce relatively little in the first half, leading to a points total that just sneaks under the 34 point mark.

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