Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:00 AM EST. Odds subject to change.
San Francisco -2½ over Pittsburgh
1:00 PM EST. We discussed the Steelers and the tough road ahead this season in our analysis and subsequent selection of them to go under 8½ wins on this season, and this game is a big reason for that, as it has the potential to set the tone for the entire year in the Steel City. If you want our analysis on Kenny Pickett and the hype surrounding him this season, please check out that write-up if you haven't already, as it would be redundant to rehash that information here.
Rather, in this space, we are going to just talk a little bit about just how much hype there really is in Pittsburgh, and why that hype is amplified by 1000% because of the Black and Gold the Steelers wear week in and week out. There are a few blue blood franchises in the NFL like Dallas or Green Bay, and the Steelers are a team that has to be elevated to that level. We know there are huge fan bases for the likes of the Raiders or Dolphins, but those franchises have been so bad for so long, that we can only assume the remaining members of their fan bases are total masochists. At least the Packers and Steelers have won a few trophies along the way.
It’s because of that large fan base, that has such high expectations year in and year out that it doesn’t take long for the Steelers hype train to get rolling. We heard it both from the talking heads and on the street at the sportsbooks. However, we must warn that this would be a good time to pause and look at the Steelers without those legendary uniforms with their one decaled helmets, and see them for what they really are, which is a pretender, masquerading around as a contender just because they have the prettiest dress at the ball.
Let’s move to the 49ers, whose young quarterback has changed from opening day last season. Trey Lance is out, and we mean OUT, as he was unexpectedly traded to the Cowboys after Sam Darnold won the 'Niner backup QB job behind Mr. Irrelevant and newly minted starter Brock Purdy. You think NFL teams are fickle about running backs? Hell, the 49ers sent a former #2 overall pick that they traded the farm for and sent him packing for a seventh-rounder who is coming off a major injury. All that said, the 49ers really like what Purdy brings to the field, and Lance’s reported pouting and having to be sent home after the call to make him QB3 made the call to ship him out to Jerry’s World an easy one. Buy in or GTFO.
Some will call that trade to the Cowboys short-sighted or rash, but the 49ers under John Lynch have not had trouble cutting bait on “bad” decisions and moving forward with what they have, which is why they were able to make it to the NFC Championship game with the last player chosen in April at the league’s most important position. Now, it would have been easy to roll with three QBs, two of which were top-end draft picks, and see where the dust settled, but the 49ers didn’t want a bad attitude in their locker room. We respect that, but it also presents us with an opportunity, as the ‘Niners do not have a QB carousel that is known for consistent success. That’s what happens when you roll into a season that carries high expectations with a seventh-rounder and a “never was” at pivot.
Just based on preseason hype alone, the Steelers should be worthy of fade consideration here, as there might not be another team that the market sees returning to its rightful glory than Pittsburgh. However, if we are mining for value (and we are), there are no gold nuggets to be found with the Steelers. The media and the market have picked those bone-dry, so that has us looking towards the 49ers, who are a great team with an uncertain QB, which from a wagering perspective is far more appealing to back than an average-to-below-average team with an uncertain QB. The Steelers should be a way bigger underdog here, but they aren’t.
San Francisco -2½ -102 (Risking 2.04 units - To Win: 2.00)