PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The line is moving.
The 2-0 Philadelphia Eagles are hosting the 2-0 Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in South Philadelphia and, according to VegasInsider.com, the line has moved from PIT -5.5 to PIT -3.5.
Can the Eagles pull of the upset at home? Can the rookie QB with two career games beat the future Hall Of Fame QB with two career Super Bowls? Sure it could happen. This is sports and that’s why they play the games.
Here are five things the Eagles need to do if they want to beat the Steelers.
5. Commit to the run
The Eagles must commit to the run and they must get Ryan Mathews touches. After 22 carries against the Browns in Week 1, Mathews — who may be dealing with an ankle injury — had just nine carries in Week 2 vs. the Browns. However, Mathews converted two of those nine carries into touchdowns. Assuming he’s healthy, Mathews needs the ball.
The Steelers are second in the NFL allowing just 50.5 yards per game on the ground (3.4 yards per attempt). The Steelers’ DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) a metric that measures team efficiency, against the run is -30.3-percent which is sixth best in the NFL.
With talented linebackers in Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons, the Steelers are stout against the run and want to make teams one dimensional.
4. Play with the lead
No. 5 is hard to do if you’re constantly playing catchup against the Steelers — and they know this. So it’s extremely important for the Eagles to play with the lead and control the clock. The Eagles lead the NFL in time of possession so far, averaging 37:42 per game. The Steelers aren’t far behind at 33:06, eighth in the NFL.
The only time the Eagles were not playing with the lead this season was during the second quarter last week against the Bears. The only time the Steelers were not playing with the lead this season was during the first quarter of Week 1 against the Redskins.
The first touchdown is going to be huge on Sunday.
3. Contain DeAngelo Williams
When you think Pittsburgh Steelers your mind automatically thinks Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown. Obviously, that’s one of the game’s deadliest combos. However, the most impressive offensive player for Pittsburgh this season has been the 33-year-old Williams filling in for the suspended Le’Veon Bell.
Williams is averaging a league-high 29 carries per game. His 10 catches is fourth-most in the NFL among running backs. That’s 68 total touches for Williams in two games. D-Will is averaging 4.1 yards per carry and 118.5 yards per game (most in the NFL).
His longest run? Just 17 yards. The Steelers want to play with the lead and pound DeAngelo Williams down your throat.
2. No big plays
In the Steelers’ first game of 2016, Sammie Coates had a 42-yard catch. In their second game, he had a 53-yard catch. And that’s not even mentioning Brown’s 12 total catches for 165 yards and two scores this season, or talented rookie Eli Rogers, or the young tight end from Penn State Jesse James.
In two games, the Eagles have given up a 49-yard catch to Alshon Jeffery, a 58-yarder to Corey Coleman, and a 44-yarder to Terrelle Pryor.
Coates is the guy to watch on Sunday, who will likely see a lot of rookie CB Jalen Mills with Leodis McKelvin “likely out” for his second straight game with a hamstring injury.
1. Win the turnover battle
Obviously this is one of the biggest keys to every NFL game and its easier said than done. Both the Eagles and Steelers have four takeaways in two games this season, however Pittsburgh has three giveaways and Philly has none.
Carson Wentz became the first rookie QB to ever start and win his first two games without his team committing a turnover. Is he due for a turnover?
Big Ben has already thrown three picks this season. Will he throw another?