Put Your Money On The Steelers - By Christopher Stout
Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial
|If you like to place wagers on football games, then you know that week one in the NFL season is always full of quirks. Bettors base their week one picks on the performances of last season and the hype of the preseason. During this opening week of football betting, teams are compared on paper and not on the playing field. Preseason propaganda mixes with performance uncertainty, and the result is the most speculative week of betting in the entire NFL season.
This is the "week one effect," and it's the reason why you should bet on the Steelers to win their season opener.
The Steelers were initially favored to beat the visiting Miami Dolphins (by a little less than a touchdown), but after Big Ben's emergency appendectomy, the line began to move. No longer the favorites, the Steelers now find themselves in a pick-em situation this coming Thursday.
Big Ben's abrupt surgery has exaggerated the "week one effect." Think about it. Miami was one the most overly-hyped teams this offseason (and with just cause), and the Steelers are the most under-hyped champions in recent memory (they get no respect, not even from their own coach). If Big Ben is removed from this setup, all of the sudden the Dolphins look more like champions than the defending champions. This line of reasoning goes as follows: If the paper champs don't have their star, then the fashionable, up-and-coming team will win the game.
This line of thinking is false for two reasons:
1. Charlie Batch can hang.
2. Home field love is a huge advantage in this contest.
Charlie Batch can hang
Even though he needed some time to get comfortable, Charlie showed poise last November when he stepped in as a temporary starter.
On November 11, in a game against the Green Bay Packers Charlie Batch showed noticeable signs of rust. It was his first start in four friggin years. During the game, Charlie couldn't find the endzone or convert a single third down. He completed 9 of 16 passes, threw an interception and fumbled a snap from center. His QB rating was a dismal 39.8, but against Green Bay, it was still enough to earn the W.
One week later, Charlie (a Pittsburgh native) started his first game at Heinz Field. He was stoked to be playing in front of his hometown crowd, and he didn't disappoint them. Charlie was quicker in his decision making, and he was calm and collected throughout the game. Batch completed 13 of his 19 passes for 150 yards. He ran for a short touchdown, and had a QB rating that was 52.2 points higher than his previous start.
Batch isn't the same rusty QB that came out in week eight last season. After all of the preseason reps he's had, Batch is good to go. Charlie can hang. He gets the job done, and he excels at Heinz Field. Even if he makes one or two horrible mistakes, he's still going to keep the Steelers in a position to win this football game. Basically, this guy isn't Tommy Maddox.
Home field love
Pittsburgh fans have an excess of love to give, and this outpour of appreciation will be a huge advantage in this game. If Charlie Batch was playing the opening game of the NFL season in Miami, I might be a bit more concerned. But he's literally playing at home. He's in a place where he has experienced success and support. The impact that such an environment has on a QB's confidence level cannot be underestimated.
Although Super Bowl XL was pretty much a home game for Pittsburgh (which itself is a testament to the ferociousness of the Steelers fanaticism), the fans at Heinz Field have not yet had the opportunity to properly express their appreciation for the team's amazing playoff performance. That'll all change this Thursday. This Thursday, Heinz Field will be the center stage of the NFL universe. It'll be roaring with enthusiasm, anticipation and appreciation. And the Steelers will be victorious.
The entire roster has confidence in Charlie. Batch won't dazzle, but he also won't disappoint. Without Big Ben (and with Hines Ward at less-than-100 percent), Pittsburgh will still find a way to win this nationally televised statement game. With no spread to cover, I feel extremely confident betting on a Steelers victory.