Bragging rights are on the line in Pennsylvania, as the Eagles make the short trip west to take on the Steelers. It’s just a dress rehearsal for the real rivalry game, as the teams meet again in Philadelphia during Week 3.
The Steelers are a three-point favorite according to OddsShark.com, surprising considering Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s aversion to playing his stars in the preseason. In the regular season I’d take this line instantly, as Pittsburgh enters 2016 in much better shape than the Eagles on both sides of the ball.
But in the preseason, many more factors make preseason predictions difficult. The big one is the starting quarterback, and the Eagles have already stated that Sam Bradford will play at least one full quarter and maybe some snaps in the third quarter on Thursday. Carson Wentz, the Eagles presumptive starter and second overall pick, was injured in the preseason opener and will not play.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has taken a lighter workload this offseason, after taking time off last year with knee and elbow injuries.
The Steelers are 2-12 in their last 14 preseason games, and have no intentions of actively trying to win Thursday’s contest. This is not only a team with Super Bowl aspirations, Tomlin knows he’ll see this team in a real game in about a month.
Taking three points doesn’t mean much in the preseason, but this will likely stay close through the fourth quarter. The point total is set at 39, but I’m not sure backups will hit that mark.
Heavy’s Pick: Philadelphia Eagles 23 Pittsburgh Steelers 16. Eagles +3. Under.