Pittsburgh -3 @ Washington 50
Tuesday September 13, 9:10am AEST
Steelers ended last year on a disappointing note as they controlled the game in Denver and a late fumble in the game gave the Broncos new life and the rest was history. Maybe it was karma seeing the Steelers were lucky to win the week before in Cincinnati.
Pittsburgh added T Ryan Harris this year along with TE Ladarius Green to replace the retired Heath Miller although Green has been hurt up to this point. WR Martavis Bryant is suspended for the year and that’s a big loss for Pittsburgh. Le’Veon Bell is also suspended for the first three games although DeAngelo Williams is more than capable to replace Bell for a few games.
The Steelers Achilles heel has been their defense in recent years. They drafted DB Artie Burns and S Sean Davis to attempt to upgrade the secondary. How quickly that takes place remains to be seen. There is potential in the secondary but it may take time.
LB Bud Dupree is injured and along with another injury for DB Senquez Golson, the Steelers are down two young guys they were counting on. Ryan Shazier is healthy and he has the makings to be a difference maker for Pittsburgh on defense.
Washington not only won the division last year but enjoyed a five game improvement in wins over the previous season. Their offense improved by five points a game and the defense by three points per game. They definitely needed to improve their defense so when Josh Norman was made available they signed the CB to a huge contract to try and shore up their secondary.
In addition they moved the aging DeAngelo Hall over to safety and brought in ex Broncos safety David Bruton. Gone for Washington is overrated CB Chris Culliver and S Dashon Goldson. They also let DT Terrance Knighton go and RB Alfred Morris. The running back position is a position of need for them this year. Washington drafted WR Josh Doctson to go along with the rest of their strong but aging receivers.
Both these teams threw the ball well last year with Pittsburgh averaging 7.4yps against 6.3yps and 6.3yppl against 5.4yppl. The Redskins averaged 7.0yps against 6.6yps but only averaged 3.7ypr against 4.2ypr as they struggled to get the running game going. Pittsburgh pass defense allowed 6.5yps against 6.4yps while Washington was even worse, allowing 6.8yps against 6.5yps. Norman can only help that unit.
Washington didn’t defeat a winning team last year and when they played a playoff team last year they scored just 10, 16 and 18 points. They also only scored 20 points against the Jets who won 10 games but didn’t make the playoffs. Those four teams NE, Car, GB and the Jets were all pretty good defensive teams, which Pittsburgh hasn’t shown yet. They did go 9-4 ats as a dog last year, including 5-1 ats as a home dog, winning their last five in a row.
Monday night road favorites in week one of the season have not performed well over the years, going just 4-14 ats, including 0-2 ats last year. The Redskins qualify in a week on situation, which is 47-20-3. That situation is also 15-4 ats when it applies to a home dog.
While that situation isn’t strong enough to play I’ll lean towards the home dog that has performed well in week one and potentially has the better defense in this game along with an offense that’s good enough to compete with Pittsburgh.
This game also qualifies in a 41-10-1 under situation, including a subset, which is 23-1-1. I’ll resist the under here because I don’t like the matchup but the situation is enough to keep me off the over.
Washington by 3
Los Angeles -2.5 San Francisco 42.5
Tuesday September 13, 12:20pm AEST
The only thing that may make this game interesting is the fact Chip Kelly is the head coach and his offence may provide some entertainment to the game, but with the quarterbacks SF has, maybe not. These two teams were equally bad throwing the ball last year as they both averaged 5.7yps against teams allowing 6.4yps. While a few teams tried to be worse these two took the top prize.
At least the Rams made up for it a little bit by averaging 4.6ypr against 4.1ypr while SF was below average rushing the ball. Both teams were even defending the rush as well but the 49ers pass defense was horrible. They allowed 7.2yps against 6.6yps while the Rams allowed just 6.4yps against 6.6yps.
The Rams lost a lot of players on defence this year. Some they let go and weren’t that good, while others were decent. The biggest losses were probably CB Janoris Jenkins, S Rodney McLeod, DT Nick Fairley and losing TE Jared Cook on offense. They drafted QB Jared Goff but he won’t start to begin the year. They’ve also drafted a TE and WR to try and help a very poor WR group.
The defensive line for the Rams is stellar and the secondary is good but may be challenged a little more this year with the defections during the offseason. Meanwhile, the Rams have spent a lot of draft picks on the offensive line the last few years but that group has yet to come around.
As bad as it’s been, they still run the ball well with Todd Gurley who is a premier running back. The Rams can be summed up this way. Each year this team wins 6 or 7 games under Jeff Fisher. It’s amazing he still has a job and especially Les Snead, the GM.
Between the two of them they’ve collectively failed to build and coach a team to success in their run with the Rams. While they’ve underachieved they won three of four games against Seattle and Arizona last year and have beaten one of those teams each of the last four years.
Meanwhile, the 49ers are an organisation that has fallen apart faster than anyone could have imagined. They bring in Chip Kelly who will incorporate his fast paced offense. Like the Rams the 49ers don’t really have any wide receivers as Torrey Smith is the best received they have.
During the last week the 49ers have been picking up receivers who are now starting on their depth chart, which tells you how bad their receivers are. They did draft DE DeForest Buckner to try and improve their defence. It will be interesting to see what Kelly’s offence does to this defence.
The quick pace has a tendency to wear out the defence. They weren’t great last year but a lot of their troubles came on the road. They were actually pretty good on defense when at home. The offensive line has not been good but there is hope.
LT Joe Staley has been consistently good over the years and this year they drafted G Joshua Garnett, picked up G Zane Beadles (who is average) and saw Anthony Davis come out of retirement. They did lose G Alex Boone but there is hope this line will be better this year.
Similar to the earlier game tonight road favourites on Monday night during week one of the season are now 4-14 ats, including going 0-2 ats last year. The 49ers surprised Minnesota in this same role last year, stuffing the Vikings 20-3. Not sure they will do that again this year.
The 49ers are 5-1-1 SU against the Rams here in SF the last seven years although many of those games they were large favorites. Last year they were a three point home dog and we used them as they won 19-16. Over those seven years this has been a low scoring game in SF, with only once a game going over 43 points and only twice have they gotten into the 40’s combined in this series.
SF qualifies in an 82-54-7 week one situation but that situation isn’t strong enough to make a play on. The Rams are a known entity in this game. SF is not with Kelly changing things up. Combine that with some recent success for the 49ers here against Los Angeles and knowing road favorites don’t perform well in this situation and I will lean with SF. I’ll lean to the under as well.
49ERS BY 4 Points