Affiliate – In one of the marquee matchups of Week 5 of the NFL season, the Philadelphia Eagles will make the short in-state trip to Heinz Field to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday. According to this week’s NFL odds, the Steelers (1-2) are 3-point favorites over the Eagles (3-1) with the over/under listed at 44 points.
The Eagles continued to live on the edge in their 19-17 win against the New York Giants as 2-point home favorites last week. Philadelphia’s three wins have come by a total of four points, making them the first team in NFL history to win each of its first three games of the season by three points or fewer, according to the Elias Sport Bureau. Much to the chagrin of their backers, it has also made Eagles 1-3 against the spread this season.
Perhaps the biggest achievement for Philadelphia in the Giants win was they did not turn the ball over. Philadelphia had coughed the ball up 12 times in the first three weeks to easily lead the NFL in that category. A big reason for that was head coach Andy Reid finally provided a steady dose of LeSean McCoy, who carried 23 times for 123 yards to help take a bit of pressure off quarterback Michael Vick.
Pittsburgh received a much-needed bye last week after struggling through the first three weeks of the season. The Steelers sandwiched a pair of losses—including a 34-31 defeat to the Oakland Raiders in Week Three—around a home win against the New York Jets.
The biggest news out of Steelers camp this week was the news by head coach Mike Tomlin that three key players are likely to return from injury versus the Eagles. Safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker James Harrison—both former NFL Defensive Players of the Year—are expected to play, as is running back Rashard Mendenhall who is returning from a torn ACL.
Harrison and Polamalu should bolster a defense that has struggled, most notably in pressuring opposing quarterbacks and forcing turnovers. The Steelers have just five sacks on the year, which is the third-fewest in the NFL; and their one interception is also the third-fewest in the NFL.
Looking at it all, this game figures to be close. Protecting Michael Vick has been a season-long problem for Philadelphia and the Steelers may be able to take advantage of that with perennial Pro-Bowlers Polamalu and Harrison back in the lineup. The home-field advantage may do the trick for the Steelers and look for them to squeak by the 3-point spread.