4* MNF SMASH (ESPN)
Pittsburgh vs. San Francisco,
12/19/2011 20:30 EDT,
Score: 3 - 20
Point Spread: +3/-112 Pittsburgh
4* MNF SMASH (ESPN) on Steelers +3
The Steelers have won 8 of their last 9 and their lone loss during this stretch came by just 3 points. Because they played the Thursday game last week, they have had 3 more days than the 49ers to heal up and prepare for this one. In addition, Baltimore's loss last night opens the door for Pittsburgh to take over first place in the AFC North with a win. That's all the motivation it will need tonight.
Pittsburgh has the edge on both offense and defense. These are arguably the 2 best defensive teams in the NFL, but Pittsburgh holds the edge because of its pass defense. The Steelers rank No. 1 in the NFL against the pass with 179.1 yards allowed per game while the 49ers rank 19th with 234.5 passing yards allowed per contest. This is significant because both teams play the run extremely well. The team that passes the football better should win this game, and I believe that team will be Pittsburgh.
Everything the 49ers do offensively is predicated on their running game. They have failed to reach the century mark in rushing in each of their losses and could have trouble getting their tonight as the Steelers are giving up just 97 rushing yards per contest this season. The 49ers are 29th in the league with 182.1 passing yards per game.
The Steelers, who prefer to move the ball through the air, rank 8th in passing offense with 257.1 yards per game.
Pittsburgh managed only 14 points in its last game but is a perfect 6-0 ATS the last 2 seasons after scoring 14 points or less in its last game. It's winning by an average score of 29.2 to 10.3 in this situation. The Steelers are also 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following an ATS loss and 14-5 ATS in their last 19 games as an underdog of 3.0 points or less. Take the Steelers.