Game: Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Odds: Steelers +1, Eagles -1
What could be better than some NFL preseason in-state rivalry action? The Steelers and Eagles don’t play each other that much but meet tonight in Philly in the debut of new head coach Nick Sirianni.
Being that it will be the first time out for the Eagles in a new system on both sides of the ball, expect some struggles. Getting acclimated to a new offense is especially difficult in the NFL.
As is typical in all levels of football, defenses are usually ahead of offenses at this stage of the preseason. That is why bettors normally look at preseason Unders. However, examining past preseason Week 1 games might change that thought.
There was no NFL preseason last year due to the coronavirus. In the two previous preseasons in 2018 and 2019, Week 1 games actually trended to the Over. The Over was 20-11-1 in those Week 1 games.
The other thing to look at when considering the total for tonight‘s Steelers-Eagles game is that Pittsburgh has already played a game. The Steelers beat the Cowboys in the annual Hall of Fame game played a week ago.
The Steelers (and Cowboys) reported to training camp before the rest of the league in order to prepare for that game. As a result, Pittsburgh is a bit farther ahead than the Eagles, especially on offense.
Pittsburgh also has the advantage at quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger, of course, will not play in this game which means Mason Rudolph will start. Rudolph has plenty of real game experience having started in place of Roethlisberger when he was hurt.
How long Rudolph will play isn’t certain, but when he is done the Steelers will then go to both Dwayne Haskins and Josh Dobbs. The pair are competing for the No. 3 spot on the depth chart. Haskins started several regular-season games in Washington before the team gave up on him.
The Eagles, on the other hand, do not have as much experience at quarterback plus they will go up against a Steelers defense that held Dallas to just six points in the Hall of Fame game.
Jalen Hurts will start for Philly, but it’s not clear how much he will play. Sirianni definitely will not run Hurts much if at all which takes away from what he does best. When Hurts goes to the bench, the Eagles will turn to aging veteran Joe Flacco who won a Super Bowl as Baltimore’s quarterback. It’s unlikely Flacco will be motivated to do much of anything tonight which again is why the Steelers have the quarterback advantage.
A new coach and playing at home is probably the only reason why Philadelphia is favored tonight. There is value on Pittsburgh at +1 because of their quarterbacks and the fact that they have played a game together already.