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Pittsburgh Steelers at San Francisco 49ers Betting Preview

The Pittsburgh Steelers look to turn their season around when they travel to the West Coast to face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Pittsburgh, sitting at 0-2, will be without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the rest of the season, forcing Mason Rudolph to take over the controls of the team’s offense.

Rudolph’s first career NFL start will come against a 49ers team that is playing as well as any team in the league right now. San Francisco is averaging 36 points a game while playing both of their games on the road, though the competition level hasn’t been the best. Now the 49ers return for their home opener hoping to hand one of the league’s model franchises another loss in a nightmare beginning to the 2019 campaign.

The moneyline for this contest has the Pittsburgh Steelers +260 and the San Francisco 49ers -310. The 49ers are favored by 6.5 points at home, while the over/under has been set at 44.

Starting Over

It was enough for Pittsburgh to say goodbye to offensive stars Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell in the offseason, but without Roethlisberger, the Steelers’ attack is going to be without much of its firepower. James Conner stepped in when Bell was holding out last season and took over the No. 1 running back spot, and he should be okay to play in this one after leaving last week’s loss to the Seahawks with a knee injury. Conner will need to carry the ball and produce better than the 54 yards and 2.6 yards per carry he’s put up so far this season.

Rudolph did throw for two touchdowns against Seattle last week after coming in for Roethlisberger, so there is some pop to the Pittsburgh passing offense. Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (team-high 11 catches, 162 yards) and tight end Vance McDonald (nine catches, 78 yards, two touchdowns) must become open targets for Rudolph to make his job easier. The Pittsburgh defense must also play better after giving up 30.5 points per game thus far to take some pressure off the offense to put up big numbers.

Resurgence By The Bay

Granted, the 49ers’ two wins thus far have been against Tampa Bay and Cincinnati, but two wins are two wins, especially for a team that finished with just four a season ago. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is back and healthy, throwing for 462 yards and four touchdowns while completing 67.3 percent of his pass attempts. Two interceptions isn’t a little worrisome, especially going against a veteran Steelers defense that loves to pounce on opponents’ mistakes.

The San Francisco running game has been very good thus far, with Matt Breida (27 carries, 158 yards) and Raheem Mostert (22 carries, 123 yards) splitting time with the ball. Keeping the Steelers’ defense from just rearing back and rushing Garoppolo will be a key, so the 49ers will look to establish the run early in the game. Defensively, San Francisco already has seven sacks as a team and will look to put a lot of pressure on the inexperienced Rudolph. Watch defensive ends Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa as they look to meet at the quarterback.

San Francisco Gets Win

The season isn’t a wash for Pittsburgh just yet. The Steelers have too much tradition to simply roll over and die just because Roethlisberger is out. But, it may take a little time, and a trip to the West Coast isn’t a good first game for a team in turmoil. San Francisco is feeling very confident about itself and will be playing its first game in front of its home fans. I’m taking the 49ers -6.5 to win and cover.

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