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NFL Preseason - Steelers vs. Panthers

September 03, 2009
NFL Preseason Betting - Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Carolina Panthers (Thursday 8 ET)

By Matt Fargo

Jake Delhomme of the PanthersLast year the Panthers crushed Washington 47-3 in the third preseason game and Carolina head coach John Fox didn't play the starters at all in the final exhibition game.

He has stated that the first units will play some Thursday, a final chance to gain some confidence in what's been an unimpressive 0-3 preseason.

The first-team offense has scored just one touchdown in six quarters as quarterback Jake Delhomme has not thrown a touchdown yet but he hasn't been bad.

Most of you will remember his absolutely miserable performance last year in the playoffs against the Cardinals, but so far he has not let that affect him as he has completed almost 66 percent of his passes while posting a 91.3 passer rating.

The Panthers defense has been plagued by injuries and poor tackling. After struggling to defend the run in the first two games, Baltimore's Joe Flacco picked apart Carolina's secondary Saturday in the Ravens' 17-13 win.

That is obviously a big concern heading into the regular season but we aren't going to see the Steelers try and take advantage of that as they will be working more on the running game.

Pittsburgh has averaged only 3.0 ypc during the preseason and that actually gives Carolina the advantage, even though it is the preseason, as part of a situation explained later.

Pittsburgh has some injury concerns on offense as running back Willie Parker has missed the past two games, part of the reason for the anemic rushing attack, and receiver Santonio Holmes is banged up with a back injury.

On defense linebacker Lawrence Timmons won't play because of a high-ankle sprain. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said that the starters are not expected to play more than two series against the Panthers.

He said his eye is going to be on the backups where there are still a few roster spots to be had. As mentioned, the rushing game has been non-existent for the Steelers and Carolina falls into a great situation because if it.

Play against teams that are averaging 3.0 or less ypc in the preseason after gaining 99 or fewer rushing yards in three straight games.

This situation is 26-8 ATS (76.5 percent) since 1993 with the average point differential being +7.6 ppg.

Carolina avoids the 0-4 preseason tonight.

Free Pick: Carolina Panthers -3 (-116) available at

Visit the free sports picks section and NFL football betting forum for more picks and info for Thursday.

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