Final Preseason Games Feature Underdog Eagles, Favored Steelers

Last of the tune-ups may matter more to Pittsburgh, with unsettled QB situation
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When the Eagles and Steelers start the real NFL season on Sept. 11, Philadelphia will be favored and Pittsburgh an underdog in their openers, but those roles are reversed in their final preseason tune-ups this weekend.

Coach Nick Sirianni’s club is a slight road underdog when visiting Hard Rock Stadium Saturday night to take on the Miami Dolphins.

And even as Mike Tomlin is still trying to sort out the Steelers’ quarterback situation, the online sportsbooks have made Pittsburgh one of the weekend’s bigger favorites in pursuing an undefeated preseason while hosting the Detroit Lions Sunday afternoon.

Very little information has been publicized about how much playing time key starters will receive, if any. Offensive stars such as the Eagles’ A.J. Brown and Najee Harris of the Steelers have yet to touch a ball in an exhibition game, and no one’s indicated they will in this third game either.

Such mysteries make for intriguing and uncertain prospects when it comes to NFL preseason wagering. That’s never stopped the oddsmakers from posting lines or football bettors from seeking action after the long dry spell since the Super Bowl, and thus we outline the options here.

Eagles’ offensive backups have looked good

With Jalen Hurts in street clothes last Sunday, Gardner Minshew led the Eagles to a 21-20 victory over the Browns in Cleveland. Minshew completed 14 of 17 passes for 142 yards in the first half, looking very much like the capable backup he showed himself to be last year when needed.

Like other starters, Miles Sanders also did not play, but Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott were effective ball carriers, with each rushing for a TD. The second-team defense, however, did not look nearly as strong in allowing third-string Browns quarterback Josh Dobbs to lead touchdown drives.

Visiting Miami, the Eagles play a Dolphins team that lost to the Las Vegas Raiders 15-13 Saturday after beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-24 in their preseason opener. Last week, first-year Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel used starting QB Tua Tagovailoa briefly, in addition to playing backups Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson.

One complication for the Dolphins this week is a stomach bug affecting multiple players, which forced cancellation of a joint practice between the two teams Thursday.

Taking everything into account, nearly all oddsmakers listed the Eagles as a 1.5-point underdog as of Friday morning, with BetMGM the exception posting a 2-point spread.

The best moneyline return for an Eagles backer was the +115 offered by Caesars, with PointsBet, FOX Bet, and Kambi-backed sites such as BetRivers, Unibet, and TwinSpires a little lower at +110.

Nearly all sites posted an over/under of 37.5 for the contest, with FOX Bet and PointsBet deviating at 38.

For the game two weeks later opening the season at Detroit, FanDuel currently makes the Eagles a 3.5-point favorite and DraftKings has Philadelphia giving 4 points to the Lions.

Game may help Steelers pick a QB

At newly christened Acrisure Stadium Sunday afternoon, there’s a good chance that Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, and Mason Rudolph all see action behind center again as Tomlin has a rather major decision to make in terms of Ben Roethlisberger’s replacement.

While Trubisky has generally been perceived as No. 1 after being signed as a free agent and starting the first two preseason games, rookie Pickett and veteran backup Rudolph have performed well while seeing longer action than Trubisky in both last week’s 16-15 win over Jacksonville and the opening defeat of Seattle.

So Sunday’s game vs. Detroit could factor into who actually takes the reins of the offense on Sept. 11 in a tough opening game at Cincinnati, for which the Bengals are 6.5-point favorites.

This weekend, most sites have Pittsburgh as a 4.5-point favorite over Detroit, which beat Indianapolis 27-26 Saturday after losing to the Atlanta Falcons the week prior. PointsBet and FOX Bet had the Steelers as just a 4-point favorite over the Lions Friday morning, making them better betting sources for a Pittsburgh supporter.

The best moneyline return for a Steelers bettor was the -200 being offered by DraftKings, Betway, BetMGM, and Caesars. Most sites listed the over/under at 38.5, with Caesars and Betfred using 39 instead.

Photo: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY

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