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Improved line paving way for Steelers Le'Veon Bell
2014-12-10

Le'Veon Bell to the left. Heath Miller, David DeCastro and Will Johnson leading the way. Again. And again. And again. At least, until the Cincinnati Bengals found out a way to stop the blossoming second-year running back.

''The offensive line was like, 'Man, we feel good about it,''' Bell said. ''As a runner, I'm running whatever the offensive linemen want to run.''

It showed. Time and again Bell dashed and darted through increasingly large holes late in Sunday's 42-21 victory over the tired, lethargic Bengals. When he was done, 26 carries, 185 yards and two touchdowns later, so was Cincinnati.

''We ran the same play two, three, four times in a row, consecutively,'' Bell said. ''Those guys just couldn't stop it. So we continued to run with it.''

Funny how often Pittsburgh victories follow suit. The Steelers (8-5) are 5-1 when the NFL's second leading rusher runs the ball at least 20 times a game. Considering his production spike in recent weeks, due in large part to the cohesive play in front of him, don't expect Bell's workload to lessen anytime soon
Pressed on if he ever saw Bell winded on a day he had 32 touches in all - including six receptions for 50 yards and a score - and left tackle Kelvin Beachum just smiled.

''Not at all, not at all, not at all,'' Beachum said.

Consider it a testament to Bell's growing reputation as one of the league's most durable backs and the fact he's not taking a lot of abuse. It helps that he's often past the really big guys on the defensive line before getting hit.

''The offensive line has done a great job of opening holes for me,'' Bell said. ''On check downs, Ben (Roethlisberger) is doing a good job of getting me the ball and allowing me to run with some space. So you've got to give a lot of credit to the offense and the offensive coaching staff.''

One that is committing to the run even with Roethlisberger in the midst of the best season of his career, even with no tested depth behind Bell after the team cut LeGarrette Blount last month. Needing a victory against the Bengals to have any chance of tracking them down in the AFC North, offensive coordinator Todd Haley put the bulk of the load on Bell's increasingly broad shoulders.
It was also a vote of confidence for a talented but erratic line that has taken its share of criticism over the last three seasons amid injuries and inconsistent play. Those issues have largely disappeared. The Steelers have only started three different line combinations this season, giving the group littered with high draft picks time to gel.

''Those guys physically and mentally are in the prime of their career,'' coach Mike Tomlin said. ''A lot of three, four, five-year guys. Guys have grown and grown up together.''

And they will be tested together as a three-game stretch looms that will define Pittsburgh's season. As potent as the Steelers have looked at times, they've also had trouble finishing off weaker teams. Pittsburgh squeaked out victories against Jacksonville and Tennessee and fell to Tampa Bay and the New York Jets. It can't happen again, not with the four teams in the AFC North separated by 1.5 games.

The Steelers are hoping to return to the playoffs for the first time in three years.

Beachum understands the line doesn't have to be great all the time, just good enough to give Bell the sliver of light he needs to turn an ordinary run into something else entirely.

''We know what's at stake,'' Beachum said. ''It's that time of the year, its AFC North football and we got playoff hopes on the line so I think everybody sucking it up and just trying to find a way to push through.''

NOTES: Tomlin said linebacker James Harrison (knee), cornerback Ike Taylor (knee) and right tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle) will have a chance to play on Sunday against Atlanta (5-8).




PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (0-0) at WASHINGTON REDSKINS (0-0)
2013-09-09

Two exciting dual-threat quarterbacks play under the lights on Monday when Eagles QB Michael Vick tries to outscore Redskins QB Robert Griffin III.
Griffin put up insane numbers during his teams sweep of Philly last year, completing 30-of-39 passes for 398 yards and 6 TD, plus 88 more running yards. He wont scramble as much with his knee brace this season, but Washington's ground game is in very capable hands (and feet). Redskins RB Alfred Morris also hurt the Eagles last season with 191 total yards in the two wins. Phillys defense got a major overhaul in personnel, and new head coach Chip Kelly has delivered his up-tempo offense from Oregon that centers around Vick and RB LeSean McCoy. He'll look to get his new team back to respectability after a 4-12 season, and could notch that first win Monday considering Washington is 11-24 ATS (31percent) in September home games since 1992. Also, favorites that allowed 5.4+ yards per play in their previous season like the Redskins are just 20-47 ATS (30percent) versus division opponents over the past decade. However, not all is grim for Washington, considering the Eagles were 0-7 ATS when the line was between +3 and -3 last season.
The Eagles, who scored just 17.5 PPG last year (fourth-fewest in NFL) will surely play up-tempo with new head coach Chip Kelly, but new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is from the Andy Reid coaching tree and should bring a more traditional touch to this offense. RB LeSean McCoy will take the majority of the carries and QB Michael Vick will get to run a few keepers. With No. 1 receiver Jeremy Maclin out for the year with a torn ACL, WR DeSean Jackson will likely get more intermediate targets. This should help the team's poor 6.1 passing YPA in 2013 that ranked 26th in the league. The Eagles hope new defensive coordinator Billy Davis can improve the teams pathetic 13 takeaways in 2012 (tied for last in NFL). This led to the club allowing 27.8 PPG, which tied them for the league's fourth-worst scoring defense. Davis 3-4 based scheme will operate in multiple looks with several blitz packages. It will feature many new faces, such as mountainous NT Isaac Sopoaga, pass-rushing OLB Connor Barwin and a brand new secondary of CB Bradley Fletcher, CB Cary Williams, FS Kenny Phillips and SS Pat Chung. This back four hopes to pick off much more than the eight passes that last year's defense managed. The only major injury concern for the defense is that Williams is questionable with a hamstring injury.
RB Alfred Morris is a three-down workhorse, but everything the Redskins do is based on QB Robert Griffin III. Its head coach Mike Shanahans classic zone blocking up front in the running game, but with the added threat of Griffin keeping it. Washington piled up a league-best 169 rushing YPG last year, and also led the NFL with 6.2 yards per play. The passing game uses a lot of play-action and rollouts with WR Pierre Garcon the closest thing to a No. 1 receiver, getting a lot of catch-and-run opportunities. TE Fred Davis is the No. 2 option for Griffin. Although the team finished 20th in passing offense (214 YPG), it still posted 27.3 PPG, good for fourth-best in the NFL. Because the Redskins stuffed the run so effectively (96 YPG allowed, 5th in NFL), opponents chose to throw on them more than any NFL team at nearly 40 attempts per game. Rookie CB David Amerson and former Bucs CB E.J. Biggers should help the overworked secondary. DE/OLB Ryan Kerrigan (8 sacks) was the only player to record at least five sacks, but ageless ILB London Fletcher, 38, is still a highly productive linebacker and team leader on defense. The Redskins will be missing some key players on Monday, including DE Jarvis Jenkins (suspension), DE Adam Carriker (quad), LB Rob Jackson (suspension), CB DeAngelo Hall (ankle) and S Philip Thomas (foot).


Manti Te'o falls off one team's board for 2013 NFL Draft
2013-04-24

"We've kind of taken him off the board," one scout told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Monday. "He doesn't have enough ability to put up with all that. Why fool with it? Try-hard, smart (Wonderlic of 23) guy. This was the first year he's really gotten himself in shape. Some of his teammates think he's kind of a phony."

Opinions vary wildly on Te'o, like they do for most prospects. We believe he is on the board for most NFL teams despite a relatively common skill set. Other scouts noticed that Te'o's playing speed is faster than his timed speed. He has drawn comparisons to Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk. In a survey of scouts taken by McGinn, Te'o ranked as the second-best 4-3 middle linebacker prospect behind LSU's Kevin Minter. Te'o ranked as the top 3-4 inside linebacker prospect, edging out Minter.

Te'o and Minter both are lucky because many teams with picks toward the end of the first round are looking for inside linebackers this year. The Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens all might be looking for linebackers.
http://www.nfl.com


Get a $100 Free Bet - Paid Cash - No rollovers
2013-01-30




Sunday Night Football Preview, Patriots visit Steel City
2010-11-12

Sportsbook.com Patriots vs. Steelers Betting Lines: Pittsburgh -4.5, Total: 45

Two of the NFL’s best teams meet up in the Sunday night game. The Patriots have been winning with good situational football, but their offense lacks the kind of big-play threat (like Randy Moss) that can capitalize against a Steelers D that is excellent, yet susceptible to giving up the big play.

The Pats young defense is in disarray, exploited by Peyton Hillis last week for 184 rushing yards and two scores in the 34-14 loss at Cleveland. During the Ben Roethlisberger era, Pittsburgh has had success against Bill Belichick defenses that had more talent, averaging 25.4 PPG in the past five meetings. New England got a scare this week as QB Tom Brady missed Wednesday’s practice with a sprained foot, but he is expected to start Sunday night.

New England has lost back-to-back games only twice since 2003. In 21 games following an in-season loss, Brady has been excellent, completing 67 percent of his passes and throwing for 42 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. This equates to a gaudy 105.4 passer rating. Brady has also dominated Pittsburgh in six career meetings with five wins, 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions. But Brady has lost some of his luster after Randy Moss was traded, throwing for only five touchdowns in four games. The team put up 32.8 PPG with Moss and is averaging a mere 22.0 PPG after he was traded.

This doesn’t seem to concern Sportsbook.com bettors as 66 percent of the early Patriots vs. Steelers point spread action is on New England.

Brady should be able to throw the football on Pittsburgh again, considering the Steelers have allowed 273 passing YPG this year. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski was placed on injured reserve this week (quad), so New England replaced him with Shayne Graham who has made over 85 percent of his FG attempts in his career.

Pittsburgh continues to lead the NFL in scoring defense (15.4 PPG) and run defense (58.3 YPG). However, on the other side of the ball, the Steelers’ offensive line is beat up with OT Max Starks placed on injured reserve (neck) this week. Rookie center Maurkice Pouncey (leg) and G Chris Kemoeatu (knee) are also both hurting, but both expect to play Sunday night. Pittsburgh must be more careful with the football based on its six turnovers in the past three games.

The Patriots are 6-2 ATS in their last eight trips to Pittsburgh. Additionally, here are three more NFL betting trends uncovered at Sportsbook.com that indicates New England is the way to bet.

Play On - Road teams (NEW ENGLAND) - off a road loss, in November games. (41-11 over the last 5 seasons.) (78.8%, +28.9 units.

Bill Belichick is 29-9 ATS (76.3%, +19.1 Units) after having won 4 out of their last 5 games as the coach of NEW ENGLAND. The average score was NEW ENGLAND 24.9, OPPONENT 16.3.

Belichick is 9-0 ATS (+9.0 Units) in road games after scoring 7 points or less in the first half in 2 straight games as the coach of NEW ENGLAND. The average score was NEW ENGLAND 29.7, OPPONENT 17.3.

To bet on the Patriots vs. Steelers game or to check out the rest of NFL Week 10 betting odds, head over to Sportsbook.com now.