Week 5 Quick Picks: Iggles at Stillers

Credit: Joey Gannon; used via CC BY-SA 2.0

The Eagles, checking in at 1-2-1 and the newly-minted NFC East leaders, head west on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Pittsburgh on Sunday to take on the 3-0 Steelers, who come into the game off of a surprise bye week thanks to the Tennessee Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak.

The Birds have some momentum, while the Steelers are well-rested. Who will come out on top in the battle for Keystone State supremacy? The guys give the picks below; it was another draw last week, so Joe will go first again.

Joe (2-0-2): The Eagles are still not a good football team. They aren’t a bad football team, and they played better on Sunday night than they have all season, but that’s also like saying a toddler had a better day today than yesterday because their dinner ended up on their clothes instead of in their hair.

The Steelers, on the other hand, are a good…wait. Are the Steelers a good football team? They’re 3-0, with wins over the Giants, Broncos, and Texans. Those teams are a combined 1-11; for comparison’s sake, the Eagles’ one win came against a 49ers team with two victories on its own.

Pittsburgh is favored in the game, which is fair, but I think the oddsmakers are selling the Eagles short while overrating the Steelers at the same time. I think this will be a close game. But who wins?

About that…with the NFL’s current scheduling matrix, these two teams now meet every four years, and those years happen to coincide with U.S. presidential elections. Dating back to 2000, I have found a trend in the results of the quadrennial Eagles-Steelers matchup and that year’s election, regardless of whether or not the game is held prior to or after Election Day.

Hear me out: in 2000, the Eagles beat the Steelers, and after a lengthy court battle, a new party moved into the Oval Office. The incumbent was the winner in 2004, and the Steelers smoked the Eagles. Remember that year, when the Steelers went 15-1 and the Eagles went to the Super Bowl? Good times for football in Pennsylvania.

Anyway, four years later, the Eagles won, and the incumbent’s party lost the election. 2012 saw the president re-elected, and a Steelers victory. In 2016, the presidency switched party hands after an early season Eagles trouncing of the Steelers.

Put simply, if the Eagles win, power changes hands in the White House. If the Steelers win, the party in power stays in power.

Of course, I’d be a lot better off making a guess at the election results based on this game than trying to guess the winner of the game based on the results of an election that hasn’t happened yet – well, I’d actually be better off guessing the result of a football game based on, like, football-related reasons – but when has common sense ever slowed me down? Looking at the current polls, there is a clear leader, and while it remains to be seen if that lead holds up, it’s all I’ve got to go on right now. Those polls predict a change in leadership, which means the Birds get the win.

Oh, and Doug’s gonna go for a two-point conversion early on that doesn’t work out, and we’re all gonna be complaining about it for the rest of the game. Eagles 23, Steelers 17.

Offensive Standout: Miles Sanders

Defensive Standout: Fletcher Cox

John (0-2-2): 2020 in a nutshell: the Eagles could lose this game, incur their fourth winless game in five weeks, and still be in first place in the NFC East. Their erratic performance this season means that their upcoming matchup against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers is a tough call. 

Yes, Pittsburgh is 3-0, but their three victories are against the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, and Houston Texans. The trio is a combined 1-11 to start the year. The Steelers are coming off an unexpected bye week after the Tennessee Titans dealt with a wave of positive COVID-19 tests. Two of those wins were decided by a touchdown or less.

The Eagles looked like a team that was finally discovering itself in San Francisco. They will squeak by in a tight game with value on the margins: a Jake Elliott field goal and a Doug Pederson two-point conversion will be the difference in the contest. Eagles 25, Steelers 21.

Offensive Standout: Greg Ward, Jr.

Defensive Standout: Brandon Graham

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