Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS, 0-3 O/U) vs. Carolina Panthers (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS, 3-0 O/U)
NFL: Thursday, August 31, 2017, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina, 7:30 pm ET
Spread: Carolina -4.5; Over/Under: 38
It’s an inter-conference matchup between a pair of teams hoping to avoid injuries in week 4 of the preseason in the National Football League. The Pittsburgh Steelers travel down the east coast as they take on the Carolina Panthers Thursday night. Pittsburgh fell 19-15 at home to Indianapolis Saturday night in their week 3 matchup. Carolina edged Jacksonville 24-23 at home in their week 3 preseason matchup on the road last Thursday night. The Steelers have won five of the six regular season meetings, including a 37-19 road win in the most recent matchup on September 21, 2014.
Pittsburgh Steelers Looking Forward to Regular Season
Pittsburgh won the first two games of the preseason but couldn’t do a whole lot offensively against Indianapolis. The Steelers moved the ball as they outgained the Colts 347-326 and won the first down battle 26-21 but they didn’t capitalize. Pittsburgh found the end zone only once and missed the extra point on that touchdown while kicking three field goals. The Steelers also turned the ball over twice in the loss. On the bright side, running back Le’Veon Bell, who has held out all preseason, has said that he’ll report to the team on September 1.
Ben Roethlisberger didn’t see a ton of action as he went 6 of 9 for 73 yards before taking the rest of the night off. Landry Jones completed 21 of 31 passes for 163 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception. Joshua Dobbs, the rookie from Tennessee, hit 4 of 7 for 24 yards. Terrell Watson led the Steelers with eight carries for 40 yards while wildly popular rookie James Conner contributed four carries for 26 yards. Eli Rogers (58 yards) and Martavis Bryant (23 yards) each hauled in five passes while Watson had four for 42 yards. Xavier Grimble (three catches, 26 yards) had the lone Steelers touchdown. Chris Boswell hit from 36, 41 and 37 yards while missing his extra point attempt.
Carolina Panthers Shoot to Close Preseason Healthy
Carolina has rode their way through the preseason without franchise quarterback Cam Newton under center for the most part. Coach Ron Rivera hasn’t ruled out playing him in the finale though it’s highly unlikely. The Panthers edged the Jaguars when a two point conversion attempt with less than six minutes to play was stuffed. Carolina lost the total yardage battle 338-304 while winning the first down battle 20-19. The Panthers enjoyed a slim 30:41 to 29:19 margin in time of possession and went one for two on two point conversions.
Newton hit both of his pass attempts for 21 yards and a score before heading to the bench. Derek Anderson completed 10 of 19 throws for 66 yards and an interception while Garrett Gilbert connected on 8 of 12 passes for 97 yards plus a two-point conversion pass. Jonathan Stewart led the Panthers in the ground game with five carries for 39 yards while Cameron Artis-Payne chipped in nine carries for 37 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Rookie Christian McCaffrey had seven attempts totaling 21 yards. Kelvin Benjamin (36 yards, TD) and rookie Curtis Samuel (15 yards) each had four receptions to lead the Panthers in the contest. Graham Gano hit his lone field goal attempt, which came from 31 yards, and an extra point in the win.
- Steelers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 road games
- Steelers are 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 games on grass
- Panthers are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 home games
- Panthers are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 Thursday games
The battle of the backups continues to run rampant in week four of the preseason. That is more prevalent this season than in years past as teams can carry 90 guys into week four as opposed to cutting down to 75 after week three and then down to 53 before the season opener. It’s a battle of guys trying to impress, either to earn a job with the team they’re playing for or to try and audition for someone else. Some of these guys stick around, some end up on the practice squads and others just fade away. Pittsburgh has some good talent in the reserve groups: take the points and the visitors.
Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers +4.5
Teams are more worried about avoiding catastrophic injuries as opposed to winning preseason games. That could turn this into something similar to the Pro Bowl, where there is as little contact as possible. It’s unlikely that you’ll see any of the stars of either team wearing more than hats in this one. Antonio Brown, Roethlisberger, Newton, Benjamin and the rest are likely to be signing autographs as opposed to playing in the game.
The under is 4-0 in the Steelers last 4 Thursday games, 19-7 in their last 26 road games, 7-3 in their last 10 games on grass and 16-7 in their last 23 overall. Carolina has seen the under go 3-0-1 in their last 4 home games, 3-0-1 in their last four overall and 3-0-1 in their last four on grass. This one likely goes the same way as with nothing to play for, it’s tough to expect a plethora of points on the board for either side.