After barely escaping the Cleveland Browns in a game that was closer than most people expected, the Pittsburgh Steelers will host the Minnesota Vikings in their home opener. The game will be played at Heinz Field, and is scheduled to begin at 1 PM. ET. As predicted last week, the Vikings took care of business against the New Orleans Saints, who still haven’t figured out how to play defense. The Steelers were also predicted to defeat the Browns, but they did not cover the spread in their 21-18 road win. With that in mind, here is one of our NFL predictions for Week 2.
Four takeaways from the Vikings victory over the Saints is that the Vikings defense is going to be good again this season, if Sam Bradford continues playing at a high level, he might prevent the Vikings from keeping the injured Teddy Bridgewater, the Vikings were smart to get rid of Adrian Peterson, and Dalvin Cook is going to be the next great NFL running back.
Even though the Saints have struggled for most of the past four seasons, Drew Brees and the Saints offense has been the one constant you can always count on when it comes to the Saints. After a close first half, the Vikings defense smothered Brees and the offense and quickly took out all the suspense in the second half. The fact that they held Brees to less than 300 passing yards shows just how good the defense is.
Cook, who was drafted by the Vikings to replace Peterson, showed why a lot of teams made a mistake by not drafting him higher. Cook needed only 22 carries to reach 127 yards, and will likely only get better as the year goes by.
Adam Thielen also led all receivers with nine catches for 157 yards. If the Vikings offense plays like this consistently, the Vikings will finish with one of the best records in the NFL this season.
The Steelers on the other hand didn’t look quite as sharp offensively. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who might be playing his final season in the NFL, finished 24 of 36 for 263 yards.
Running back LeVeon Bell, who held out during the preseason, finished with 10 carries for 32 yards. Due to his holdout, Bell was clearly not in football shape, and should be able to return to his old form after a few games.
Antonio Brown, who signed a contract extension in the offseason, showed why the Steelers made him the highest paid receiver in the league with 11 catches for 182 yards.
Pittsburgh finished the season 11-5 last year and lost to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. If they want to earn home field advantage this season, they will need to win as many games as possible, which means they have to play better than they did against the Browns.
In their last five games in September, the Vikings are 5-0 ATS. They also have a 12-5 record ATS when they play teams with winning records.
The Steelers are 5-2 ATS in their last seven week 2 games, and also 5-2 ATS in their last seven September games. The Steelers also have a 7-3-1 ATS record in their last 11 games.
By Moe Epsilon [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons