NFL Tips: Tuned-up Vick can get Steelers back on the winning trail

Eli Manning can fire the Giants into an early lead over the 49ers
With a full game under his belt, Michael Vick can do some damage this week

The New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers look good things to make lightning starts in this week's NFL action, as Neil Harvey explains...

"The Giants are traditionally quick starters, having led at half time in every one of their games this season. They can blow the 49ers out of the MetLife Stadium in the opening exchanges"

San Francisco 49ers @ New York Giants
Monday, 01:30

These two sides seem to be heading in different directions. The (2-2) Giants were unlucky to open with a couple of narrow losses, with poor decisions from head coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning costing them both times in games they really should have won. But the Giants bounced back with a victory over the Redskins, shutting down Washington's rushing attack in the process. The boys in blue then raised their game even further last weekend, when going to Buffalo and defeating the Bills, 24-10.

The improvement from Week One is visible in both results and performances. The Giants defense looks better organised with every passing game. While on offense, Coughlin has used his full arsenal of weapons to keep opponents guessing. Rashard Jennings runs the hard yards. Andre Williams specialises in the goal-to-go bulldozing efforts. And Odell Beckham Junior continues to be Eli Manning's best receiving option. None of the aforementioned players has been putting up spectacular numbers. But together, their efforts have been greater than the sum of their parts.

By comparison, (1-3) San Francisco are amounting to much less than they might appear to be. But not to me. I tipped them here on Betfair as my pick of the pre-season betting action, to have less than 6.5 wins. And they've been doing me proud so far.

My lack of confidence in the 49ers comes down to a dearth of talent in a squad that's been ravaged by the departure of key players in recent seasons. I think Colin Kaepernick's quarterback skills are the NFL's version of the emperor's new clothes. And that is how things have been panning out, with the K-Man having thrown for a miserable two touchdowns in his first four games. His errant passes have made even Peyton Manning's look assured. And he's not helped by a lack of quality wideouts to aim for.

The 49ers defense, which was much-vaunted in recent years, has now developed a case of travel sickness, savaged in both Pittsburgh and Arizona to the tune of 70 points in all. And now it's the turn of Manning, who is among the more talented QBs in the NFL, to cut loose on them. Beckham should be the one to benefit most, and could be set for some big yardages and a score.

The Giants are traditionally quick starters, having led at half time in every one of their games this season. They can blow the 49ers out of the MetLife Stadium in the opening exchanges. And their improving defence can take advantage of an out-of form Kaepernick, when he tries to force his team back into the game.

Recommended Bets
New York Giants (-3.5) to win at half time @ 1.9620/21 or better
New York Giants (-7) to win @ 2.001/1
Odell Beckham Jr receiving yards to be more than 90.5 @ 1.9620/21 or better
Odell Beckham Jr to score first/anytime touchdown @ 6.005/1

Pittsburgh Steelers @ San Diego Chargers
Tuesday, 01:30

We saw last week how costly the absence of Ben Roethlisberger is for Pittsburgh, with the Steelers snatching home defeat from the jaws of victory against previously winless Baltimore. Stand-in quarterback Michael Vick was hampered by the slow pace of the play-calling but didn't do too bad overall, completing 19 of 26 passes in a game where both teams focused on the run. Vick now has a full game under his belt and the prospect of facing a much gentler defense in the form of the Chargers.

San Diego have put up 30 points or more in their two home games to date. Don't be fooled though by the shoot 'em up style of the Chargers' two wins so far. San Diego were behind early on, as they've in been each game this season, before pulling off improbable comeback victories. Cleveland are as poor a side as you'll see this year and yet they came mighty close to winning in San Diego last week.

If Cleveland can hurt the Chargers, then Pittsburgh certainly can. LeVeon Bell will once again lead the Steelers run attack, against a team that's already been gashed for over a hundred yards by both Gio Bernard and Adrian Peterson. Bell is sure to get plenty of carries and is capable of putting up similarly large numbers. Throw in the receiving talents of Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, and it's hard to see how the Chargers defense will be able to resist, even with a back-up QB under centre.

Philip Rivers is a maverick QB, who flits between genius and madness. San Diego's lucky river could run dry though this time against a Steelers defense that's been solid so far. Pittsburgh are especially tough on the run. And so with lacklustre running back Melvin Gordon unlikely to make much headway for the home team, that could leave Rivers angling for the deep pass too often. When Rivers is bad, he's really bad, turning over possession for fun. And this could be one of those days.

Bottom line is the Steelers get a handy field goal head start. And that looks crucial here against a Chargers side who've been scraping home. Take advantage and stick with Vick to come good.

Recommended Bets
Pittsburgh (+2.5) to win at half time @ 2.001/1 or better
Pittsburgh (+3.5) to win at full time @ 2.001/1 or better
Melvin Gordon rushing yards less than 60.5 @ 1.9620/21 or better
LeVeon Bell rushing yards more than 99.5 @ 1.9620/21 or better
LeVeon Bell to score first/anytime touchdown @ 8.5015/2

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