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Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Jets: Preview and Pick
Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Jets: Preview and Pick
The Pittsburgh Steelers are off to a very bad start and are still in danger of having one of the worst seasons of all time. They have had a bye week to try and regroup after losing a game in London against the Minnesota Vikings. Now they will go up against a suddenly hot New York Jets team who are off a huge win against the Atlanta Falcons in front of a nationally televised audience on Monday night football.
Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Jets Odds
The NFL betting line for this game opened up with the Steelers as a (-2) point favorite in this AFC meeting. The Steelers are still favorites, despite the fact that they have yet to put a complete game together this season. Because of that fact and the big win over Atlanta, the early money for this game is coming in on the Jets at a 54 percent clip as of the writing of this article. The line has slightly shifted in favor of the Steelers and can now be found at (-2.5) at several of the top rated sportsbooks.
The Jets are winning with defense. Matt Ryan completed a season-high 88.2% (30-of-34) of his passes when facing 4 or fewer pass rushers Monday night, including 2 touchdowns. Coming into the game, the Jets defense had allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 53.8% of passes when sending a standard pass rush, the 2nd-lowest percentage in the league. Matt Ryan completed a season-high 31 passes (on 36 attempts) that traveled 10 yards or fewer downfield Monday. Ryan's average pass traveled 6.8 yards downfield, his 4th game this season with an average pass shorter than 7.0 yards. He had 4 such games all of last season. Ultimately it was the defense that won this game.
Ben Roethlisberger will have to move the ball against the Jets if he hopes to get Pittsburgh in the win column.
The latest football betting trends for this game reveal several betting angles that should not be ignored. Pittsburgh is 1-4 against the spread (ATS) in its last 5 games on the road but they also have some positive stats. Pittsburgh is 6-3 straight up in their last 9 games when playing on the road against NY Jets and 13-4 straight up in their last 17 games when playing NY Jets. The NY Jets are 4-11 (ATS) in their last 15 games when playing Pittsburgh and 2-4 ATS in their last 6 games at home.
Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Jets Pick
With plenty of time to go before kickoff of this week, I will wait to announce my pick when we get closer to game day. Check back the day of the event for my pick on this great game.
On Monday night, New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith played a nearly perfect game, posting a 147.7 quarterback rating and earning a big win over the Atlanta Falcons on the road. Was this a breakout game or just a fluky good performance? He's a rookie, so odds are there will be ups and downs the rest of the season, but one stat that stood out for Smith was his success against pressure.
Entering the game, he had the eighth-worst QBR (16.2) amongst qualified quarterbacks and had completed just 52 percent of his passes in situations where he was facing five or more pass-rushers. On Monday, according to ESPN Stats & Information, Smith completed six of seven passes (86 percent) in such situations for a 98.8 QBR rating.
Can he maintain that pace against defensive pressure? The good news is that the Jets' schedule leading up to their Week 10 bye is pretty friendly when considering the relative lack of success those defenses have had when sending five or more pass-rushers so far this season: Pittsburgh Steelers (17th, 86.7 passer rating allowed), New England Patriots (11th, 79.7 PRA), Cincinnati Bengals (21st 95.5 PRA), New Orleans Saints (22nd, 95.8 PRA).
Of course, Smith was horrible in his first meeting with the Patriots (15 of 35 for 214 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTS, 15.0 QBR), though that game was on the road. By the time we get to the Jets' bye week, we should have a pretty good handle on whether Smith is going to be comfortable for the stretch run, but it appears he should have a good chance to make a mark in the interim.
The old saying goes: "You are what your record says you are."
But to the New York Jets, the winless Pittsburgh Steelers may as well be challenging the Broncos and Chiefs for AFC supremacy.
"We understand who we are playing. We are playing the Pittsburgh Steelers," Jets right tackle Austin Howard said of Sunday's opponent. "Very good team, whatever their record is. We know they can come out and beat any team at any given time, any given week."
Heading into Sunday's game against Pittsburgh, which has all the makings of a trap game, the Jets are vowing they will not overlook their 0-4 opponent. The Steelers have lost each game by at least seven points and a once-stout defense is yielding 27.5 points per game.
"There will be no letdown," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "If the Pittsburgh Steelers beat us it's because they beat us. There's no other factor because our focus is strictly on them."
The Jets are riding high after their come-from-behind 30-28 win over Atlanta on Monday, while their opponent is one of four winless teams in the NFL. Add in a potential first-place showdown with New England in two weeks, and Sunday has all the makings of a letdown for the Jets.
The Jets insist this won't be the case, though. Ryan maintained that the Steelers are a proud organization, and with Mike Tomlin at the helm, he knows the Steelers are going to be well prepared. The Steelers do have the scheduling advantage for the game, coming off a bye while the Jets are on a short week after visiting Atlanta on Monday.
The Steelers also have some history on their side as they have historically dominated the Jets. They are 18-4 against them and have won the last two games, including last year's tilt, but this Steelers team hardly resembles those teams of the past.
"Pittsburgh is no joke," said Jets offensive guard Willie Colon, who was released by the Steelers during the offseason. "I tell you that from being an ex-Steeler, knowing how those guys think in the locker room. It's a lot of pride in that locker room, from that organization, from every man that wears that helmet. They are going to come in here and battle. We better be ready to go too."
If the Jets are able to beat Pittsburgh, it would mark back-to-back wins, a rarity for them over the past few years. Dating back to 2011, the Jets have won consecutive games just once in their past 24 games. Ryan joked Tuesday that the NFL sent him a memo saying teams are allowed to win two in a row.
The Jets will get their chance Sunday against an 0-4 team that they pledge not to take lightly.
"No one is saying we have to keep on going out there and losing one, winning one, and losing one and winning one," Howard said. "It doesn't have to be a roller coaster season."
Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes (hamstring) didn't practice Wednesday. He was wearing a sweatshirt and shorts during the portion of practice open to the media.
Holmes suffered a strained hamstring Sept. 29 during the Jets' loss to Tennessee. Holmes did not practice last week and it appears he will not suit up Sunday against his former team, Pittsburgh.
Cornerback Dee Milliner (hamstring) did individual work off to the side during practice. He suffered a hamstring injury Sept. 25 during practice and has not practiced or played since. It's too early in the week to know whether Milliner will have a chance to suit up Sunday.
Safety Jaiquawn Jarrett was not working during the portion open to the media. He was riding a stationary bike. Jarrett was not listed on last week's injury report, but Jets head coach Rex Ryan will provide an update on the safety when he meets with the media later.
The Jets were also without tight end Kellen Winslow (knee), defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis (back) and wide receiver Clyde Gates (knee). Ellis missed for a personal reason, while Gates was present during the open portion but did not work. Winslow was not on the field.
The New York Jets rookie has exuded a certain calmness during the fourth quarter of games -- never letting the moment get too big for him as he tried to lead his team to a victory like he did Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons.
It is the same steadiness he exhibited as a youngster on Christmas morning. Granted, unwrapping packages is not as complex as dissecting defenses, but he never let his emotions get too high.
"My mom thought it was weird," Smith said Wednesday. "I never really got [excited] on Christmas when I was a kid. That's just how I was all the time."
His even-keeled demeanor has played a large role in Smith leading the league with three game-winning drives through the first five weeks of the year. Smith has delivered in the fourth quarter in each of the Jets wins so far, including two last-second wins against the Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"It's just the way I have been growing up. I don't really get nervous, especially in football," Smith said. "It's just something that I love to do. I just look at it as if I was playing in the backyard playing sandlot, you wouldn't get nervous then. I walk into the game, I feel prepared. I'm never really nervous when I'm prepared."
Monday night marked Smith's finest performance in the NFL thus far as he guided the Jets to a come-from-behind win against the Falcons. Trailing 28-27 with 1:54 left, Smith went 4-of-4 for 37 yards and added in an eight-yard run to put the Jets in position for the game-winning field goal. He completed 16 of 20 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns Monday as the Jets improved to 3-2.
Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin, whose team will try to stop Smith on Sunday, called him "somewhat of a flatliner", meaning he evens off and does not let his emotions swing. He believed Smith's personality is "geared toward delivering in those moments." Jets linebacker Calvin Pace echoed those thoughts.
"He's even-keeled. He's never too up, he's never too down," Pace said. "The thing I like about Geno, he never gets down on himself. When he makes a mistake, he's the same guy. Even when he's doing well, you look at him, expecting more emotion, but he's just smooth."
Smith said he cannot remember the last time he was ever nervous on the football field, and that stems from his love of the game. Whether the Jets win or lose, he is going to be the same guy afterward. It was that way when he was younger, and he tries to keep it that way now as he guides an NFL team.
"The one thing I've learned is never let the game change who you are, good or bad," Smith said. "So I'm never going to change. I'm never going to get beside myself."
The rookie did acknowledge there is one thing that gets him pumped.
"Life. I'm big on life," Smith said. "Waking up every morning excites me."
The Steelers’ offense appears to be heading in the right direction. The return of tight end Heath Miller and addition of running back Le’Veon Bell has totally changed the dynamic of a unit that had been woeful in the Steelers’ first two games.
Now the defense has to step up if the Steelers are to get their season untracked. The Steelers traditionally torment rookie quarterbacks such as the one they will face Sunday when they visit the Jets.
But Geno Smith shouldn’t be lacking for confidence when he faces the Steelers, and not just because the former West Virginia star threw three touchdown passes and led a game-winning drive that stunned the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night.
The Steelers have not put enough pressure on the quarterback this season, making it debatable how uncomfortable they will make things for Smith at MetLife Stadium.
Defensive end Cameron Heyward has replaced Ziggy Hood in the starting lineup, and he is second on the team in quarterback hurries with nine. Hood joins left tackle Mike Adams as the two players who have been demoted following the Steelers’ first 0-4 start since 1968. Will more players be on the hot seat if the Steelers continue their losing ways?
Their 1 p.m. game against the Jets looked like one of their easier road contests before the start of the season.
But the Jets are 3-2 and have emerged as one of the NFL’s early surprises. Coach Rex Ryan appeared to be on his way out of New York after a disastrous 2012, but he has the Jets playing well despite starting a rookie quarterback who is surrounded by no-name skill players.
At least one NFL analyst has Ryan and the Jets beating the Steelers and moving to 4-2.
Coach Mike Tomlin couldn’t make sweeping changes after the Steelers went winless in September due to the limitations of a 53-man roster.
The two switches Tomlin has settled on make the most sense as the Steelers try to dig out from their first 0-4 start since 1968.
Left tackle Mike Adams had to sit for his sake as much as that of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Adams was abused by Vikings defensive end Jared Allen on Sept. 29, and his continued struggles could have had long-term ramifications.
Adams has lost his confidence, and he needs to take a step back if his career as a left tackle is to be salvaged, as both the Steelers and Roethlisberger believe it can be.
Tomlin didn’t just send a message to Adams by dropping him behind Kelvin Beachum and Levi Brown on the depth chart. He also challenged the Steelers’ 2012 second-round draft pick.
“The most important thing is not maybe what’s happened to him at this point. It’s how he responds to it and moves forward,” Tomlin said of Adams. “I think it’s going to have an opportunity to define him and his career. There’s a lot of solid professional players that have been through ups and downs, demotions and so forth, and the guys that show staying power are the guys that respond appropriately, that roll their sleeves up and go to work.”
The Steelers have never had a problem with Ziggy Hood’s willingness to work. But five years into his NFL career he still isn’t much more than a serviceable defensive end.
And the Steelers had much higher hopes for Hood when they thought they got a steal by taking him with the final first-round pick in the 2009 draft.
They didn’t sign Hood to a new deal prior to the season starting, something they usually do with those they have identified as core players who are going to the final year of their contract.
Cameron Heyward, meanwhile, has emerged in his third NFL season, and he has the look of a long-term anchor along the defensive line.
The Steelers’ first-round pick in 2012 is second on the team with nine quarterback hurries despite playing limited snaps, and Tomlin had to get Heyward on the field more.
“I think he’s been really solid and not taking anything away from Ziggy,” Tomlin said. “Obviously both guys will continue to play. We just want Cam to play more than he’s been playing.”
-- Ike Taylor has talked to left tackle Mike Adams and defensive Ziggy Hood, each of whom has been replaced in the starting lineup. Taylor lost his starting job for a five-game stretch during the second half of the 2006 season, and he said he turned out to be a better player from the benching. His advice to the demoted: “Act the same. Stay the same. Have the same approach,” Taylor said. “Take it personal and once you take it personal everything else will settle in.”
-- Hood said he took it hard when defensive line coach John Mitchell told him at the beginning of the week that he would be replaced in the starting lineup by Cameron Heyward. But the fifth-year veteran said he won’t let the demotion adversely affect him or his friendship with Heyward. “I’d be a horrible teammate if I allowed this to eat me up inside and turn away from him because he’s starting and I’m not because that’s not the type of guy I am,” Hood said.
-- Ryan Clark said during his ESPN visit last week that he thought quarterback Ben Roethlisberger needed to reign himself in at times since his propensity for extending plays also resulted in too many turnovers and sacks. Roethlisberger said Wednesday he hadn’t heard Clark’s comments but that he didn’t take offense to them either. “That’s the great thing about this country we live in," Roethlisberger said. "Everyone is entitled to their opinion. If Ryan feels that way that’s fine.”
-- Le’Veon Bell didn’t hear the praise that Roethlisberger lavished on the rookie running back during his weekly radio show. He allowed only a small grin when Roethlisberger said Bell had done some things reminiscent of Adrian Peterson in his NFL debut. “I don’t want to buy into too much of the praise,” Bell said. “I don’t want to buy into too much of the criticism. I just want to say level-headed and keep going out there and make plays. The fact that I’m getting compliments like that from my teammates is good for me. I’ve got to continue to do the right things and hopefully more will come.”
-- Jets coach Rex Ryan said during a conference call with Pittsburgh reporters that it doesn’t look good for wide receiver Santonio Holmes playing Sunday against his former team. Taylor isn’t buying it. “I think he is [playing],” Taylor said. “That’s just my mentality.” Holmes had been out after injuring his hamstring in the Jets’ fourth game of the season. He won’t practice today, Ryan said.
Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Will Allen has signed to rejoin the Steelers today.
The corresponding move hasn’t been announced, though Dulac said safety Damon Cromartie-Smith is expected to be released to make room for Allen.
The Steelers have been willing to shake things up a bit in the wake of their 0-4 start, which beats the alternative. And bringing back a guy who was around when they actually won games is the next step.