The first full week of the NFL Preseason gets underway on Thursday night. Tonight we will see the battle for Pennsylvania take place as the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Philadelphia Eagles from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The game is scheduled for a 7:35 p.m. start time and it will be televised locally. Currently the odds for the game have the Eagles favored by 1 point for the game, while the total sits at 35.
Free Analysis: The Philadelphia Eagles are set to kick off their 2012 preseason, though the atmosphere at Lincoln Financial Field for the team's clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers will certainly have a more somber feel than usual in light of recent events. Tragedy struck the Eagles family this past weekend when Garrett Reid, the oldest son of head coach Andy Reid, was found dead in his dormitory room Sunday morning at the club's training camp facility at Lehigh University. The elder Reid took a brief leave of absence during the week to deal with the unfortunate situation, but was back at practice on Wednesday and it's believed he'll still be manning the sidelines for Thursday's tilt. Of course in game one of the preseason we can’t expect to see too much of the starters but it has been a lot of the backups making news during camp. Michael Vick is the QB of this team so no QB controversy there and Mike Kafka is the number tow but rookie Nick Foles and veteran Trent Edwards will more than likely battle for the number three spot and should see action. LeSean McCoy is the veteran in the backfield but Dion Lewis has had the best camp of any player and looks to be one of the most improved players on the roster and with rookies Bryce Brown and Chris Polk the Eagles are very happy with their backfield. Defensively the Eagles are stacked and they took a bunch of defense in the draft with Fletcher Cox, Brandon Boykin, Mychal Kendricks, and Vinny Curry. Dominique Rodgers Cromartie has looked improved in camp as well. The Steelers are going through a turmoil of a different sort, with big-play wide receiver Mike Wallace currently holding out of camp as he seeks a long- term contract extension. Pittsburgh will also be minus several other prominent players for this matchup, with Pro Bowl outside linebacker James Harrison, running back Rashard Mendenhall, nose tackle Casey Hampton and offensive tackle Max Starks all residing on the physically unable to perform list with knee injuries. Ben Roethlisberger has taken a beating recently so strengthening the line is a priority and Mike Adams and David DeCastro will be a big part of that process. Roethlisberger, who's been bothered by a minor rotator cuff tear in his throwing shoulder, is slated to receive some work on Thursday but will likely play sparingly.Isaac Redman has locked down the primary running back spot with Mendenhall shelved, but the preseason should bring a spirited battle between third-year pro Jonathan Dwyer and sophomore John Clay to be the main backup. Defensively, with James Harrison on the PUP list and with the injuries to Troy Polamalu over the years look for the starters to play a limited role. I would think Ziggy Hood may be in a fight to keep his job with Cameron Heyward and Al Woods will be looking for more playing time. Keenan Lewis will be called on to try and improve a secondary that was shredded in the playoffs. This will be the 26th lifetime meeting between these Keystone State rivals in the preseason, with the Steelers owning a 15-10 advantage by virtue of three straight wins in the series that includes a 24-14 decision at Heinz Field last season.
Free Pick: Im gonna side with the Eagles in this one. Philadelphia had a very strong finish to their year and would like to start strong in the preseason here. Big Ben will be limited for Pittsburgh and Wallace is holding out, so there goes a big part of their early offense. Defensively the Eagles had a great end to their year, allowing11.5 ppg in their alst 4 games and they used their first 3 draft picks on defense and you can bet that those guys will get plenty of looks in this one. THe Eagles defense is very strong and DEEP and should handle a depleted Pitt offense in this one. Philly's offense is in good hands at the start with Vick, but the backups have all had very good camps and will get a quarter each to showcase their stuff. The Pitt Defense is depleted as well with Harrison out as well as NT Casey Hampton, plus Troy Polamalu isn't expected to play much at all, so they will have problems stopping the Eagles here. The Eagles are paying with heavy hearts for Andy Reid and the loss of his son, plus they have more depth than Pittsburgh and I believe all that will carry them to the win here.
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