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Steelers @ Vikings
Vikings - Steelers Over 40
It’s hard to go against Denny Green in the preseason. Coach Green has been very aggressive in the past – witness last week’s game as an example. Against the Saints, Green’s gameplan was to throw long, keep the starters in for almost a half (and the 2nd string in through much of the 3rd quarter), and find a way to win. ATS wise, Green has not been a good favorite the past few years (1-5 ATS in ’99 and ’00), but we know he’s not coming into this game with a half-assed approach. That being said, last week was an emotional win for Minnesota, the first game since the tragic death of Korey Stringer, and in a meaningless preseason contest, it’s easy to picture a flat performance this time around – not a spot to back the home favorites.<p>
The Steelers are not taking this one lightly, either. They are coming off a ‘bye week’ in the preseason, and Coach Cowher has indicated that he will use his starters for the entire first half, an aggressive plan from him. Kordell was pretty iffy in the first game (they didn’t score a point while Stewart was in the game). It was a late comeback led by Tommy Maddox and Tee Martin that got them the 17-16 win over the Falcons.<p>
The best bet for this game appears to be Over the total. There’s a reason why this is the highest total on the board this week. The Saints Aaron Brooks went 10-10 for 129 yards and a TD against the Vikings 1st string defense last week. The Vikings really are in for a rough season on D and I expect that just about everybody they face is going to put points on the board against them. At the same time, Minnesota is going to score points of their own. Even when Culpepper is out of sync, as he was last week (only 3 completions), he still makes big plays with his feet, and is capable of hitting his awesome receivers as well. And rookie RB Michael Bennett is getting plenty of carries, even in the 2nd half against the Steelers’ reserves, in his effort to learn the nuances of a Robert Smith–less offense. The Vikings now have ten overs and one under in their last eleven preseason games. That’s not a meaningless trend – it’s the way Denny Green coaches preseason football. Bill Cowher, too, has a preseason Over bent, with a 13-7 O/U ratio since ’97. I’m betting on TD’s, not FG’s here – that will be the difference. And I make this a bet, not a lean, because the Vikings have the big play ability to get in the endzone, while their D is just bad enough to let the Steelers do the same.<p>
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