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carolina pittsburgh


Kickoff: Thursday, 8:20 p.m. EDT

Line: Pittsburgh -14, Total: 37

The Pittsburgh Steelers are trying to make their bettors happy with a possible division title and playoff bye when they host 2-12 Carolina tonight. This is all very possible for the 10-4 Steelers if they win their final two games. Safety Troy Polamalu will not play for the second time in a row due to a strained right Achilles’ tendon. TE Heath Miller is expected to suit up after being out for two games with post-concussion symptoms.

Polamalu is the Pittsburgh’s best player on defense and maybe the best player on the entire NFL team, and the Steelers have struggled when he’s on the sidelines. Over the past two football seasons, the Steelers are 14-4, allowing 14.8 PPG and forcing 41 turnovers when Polamalu plays. Without the All-Pro safety, Pittsburgh is 5-7, allowing 23.1 PPG and forcing 11 turnovers. But even with injuries to Polamalu and run-stopping DE Aaron Smith (triceps), the Steelers still rank third in the NFL in total defense (292 YPG) and first in stuffing the run (63 YPG).

They should have little problem stopping the Carolina Panthers offense that ranked dead last in the NFL in scoring (13.1 PPG), total offense (266 YPG) and passing offense (149 YPG). Rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen is the lowest-rated passer in the NFL (59.1 QB rating) with a 52.7% completion rate, 5.4 yards per attempt, two touchdowns and seven interceptions. For the Panthers to have any chance to keep this game close, running back Jonathan Stewart will have to find holes in Pittsburgh’s top-ranked rush defense. Stewart has been awesome in his past four games, rushing for 460 yards on 78 carries (5.9 YPC).

The Steelers have had offensive problems as well, with just four offensive touchdowns in its past four games. Ben Roethlisberger has thrown only two TD in these games, but he is moving the football with 255 passing YPG over this stretch. RB Rashard Mendenhall had his fourth 100-yard rushing game in last week’s loss to the Jets, gaining exactly 100 yards on 17 carries (5.9 YPC).

The Steelers are 4-0 ATS (3-1 SU) in the past four meetings between these teams, winning the past two by blowouts (30-14 in 2002 and 37-3 in 2006). This NFL betting trend points towards Pittsburgh to win and cover the two-touchdown NFL point spread.

PITTSBURGH is 14-4 ATS (77.8%, +9.6 Units) in home games after outgaining opp by 100 or more total yards in 2 consecutive games since 1992. The average score was PITTSBURGH 25.5, OPPONENT 14.8 – (Rating = 1*).

Oddsmakers also predict the game will finish Over the Total:

Play Over – Road teams where the total is between 35.5 and 42 points (CAROLINA) – off 2 or more consecutive unders, pathetic team – outscored by opponents by 10 or more points/game. (49-20 since 1983.) (71%, +27 units. Rating = 2*).

SA Says: Plays Pittsburgh as well.