Archive for Friday, November 5, 2004

Steelers have talent to shut down Eagles

Pittsburgh set to stop last unbeaten squad

November 5, 2004


A week ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers faced a daunting double, playing the NFL's two unbeaten teams, albeit at home. They got through the first half by easily beating New England, ending the Patriots' 21-game winning streak, and now get Philadelphia (7-0).

Don't look for a letdown.

"We'll be fine," coach Bill Cowher says. "We aren't going to squander what we have created for ourselves. We'll be ready to go, trust me."

Trust him.

The Eagles are favored by 11/2 points, even on the road against a 6-1 team. That's a measure of the regard in which Philadelphia is held against a team that has won five in a row with rookie Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback.

Things are getting harder for the Eagles.

They won their first five games by 10 points or more, including wins the first two weeks over the Giants and Vikings, who with Atlanta are the closest teams to them in the NFC. But not too close -- all have two losses.

Their last two wins have been a lot tougher, in overtime in Cleveland and 15-10 last week at home over Baltimore. That makes this their third straight game against a team from the AFC North.

There's a personal angle here too, although not as intense as the the woofing last week between Terrell Owens and Ray Lewis. Duce Staley, who always thought he was underutilized during his seven seasons in Philadephia, is having an outstanding season as the Steelers' principal running back, averaging 4.7 yards per carry.

So the Steelers give the '72 Dolphins something to cheer for in a season in which they can hardly find anything positive about the current Miami team.


Minnesota (plus 6) at Indianapolis (Monday night)

Daunte Culpepper vs. Peyton Manning means yet another shootout for the Colts, who are averaging 31 points a game, best in the league, but surrendering 25, the fourth worst. That means the Vikings will score even without Randy Moss.

COLTS, 42-34

New England (minus 21/2) at St. Louis

The Patriots will be without Ty Law and maybe Corey Dillon, and the Rams will be rested after a bye.

But the winning streak pressure is off now for New England and St. Louis is a model of inconsistency.


Houston (plus 6) at Denver

The Texans are over .500 for the first time in their history. The Broncos have played badly in two straight losses. Given the NFL's unpredictability ...

BRONCOS, 20-16

Cleveland (plus 6) at Baltimore

The Browns beat the Ravens 20-3 on opening day.

RAVENS, 20-3

New York Jets (minus 3) at Buffalo

The people who doubt the Jets point at their schedule. All they can do is play the teams the league tells them to.

JETS, 24-17

Kansas City (minus 3) at Tampa Bay

The Chiefs have scored 101 points in their last two games. Tampa Bay's defense is better than that.

CHIEFS, 23-22

New Orleans (plus 6) at San Diego

The spread alone shows how high the Chargers have risen.


Chicago (plus 9) at New York Giants

In pregame coachspeak, Tom Coughlin makes these Bears sound like the '85 version.

Come on, Tom.

GIANTS, 27-6

Washington (plus 31/2) at Detroit

The Redskins got beaten by the zebras last week.

This week the Lions will do it.

LIONS, 17-12

Seattle (minus 7) at San Francisco

Tim Rattay may play for the 49ers, giving them some offense. But not enough.


Dallas (minus 1) at Cincinnati

The Cowboys found their ground game against Detroit. It should be there against the Bengals, too.

COWBOYS, 28-20

Oakland (plus 6) at Carolina

Extra motivation for the Panthers: John Fox and Al Davis dislike each other.


Arizona (plus 3) at Miami

When was the last time the Cardinals had more wins than the Dolphins?


LAST WEEK: 9-5 (spread), 9-5 (straight up)

SEASON: 60-54-2 (spread), 76-40 (straight up)

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