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- R. J. Miller



This article has been edited from a larger feature in the PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER, written by Charlie Deitch, published on Thursday, January 29, 2009

For Bettor or Worse

On the face of things, the Steelers Feb. 1 Super Bowl match-up against the Arizona Cardinals doesn't exactly send shivers down the spines of the Black and Gold faithful.

.....It's easy to forget that in the world of Pittsburgh sports, where reporters are often just another group of die-hard fans. It can be hard to get an honest picture of the Steelers' chances. So to dissect the game, City Paper consulted sources with a purely mercenary interest: professional gamblers.

So far, they've yet to put their money where so many Pittsburghers' mouths are.

"I haven't heard a solid opinion yet that would convince me to bet one way or another," says Tony Miller, the race and sportsbook manager of the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas. "I think it really is up in the air."

Professional sports handicapper J.R. Miller (no relation to Tony) agrees. "It's an old adage, but a consistently true one -- offense makes headlines, but defense makes games," he says. "Arizona is known for the offense and Pittsburgh for the defense. So let's just assume that those two units offset one another.

"That means the key to this game could come down to Pittsburgh's offense against Arizona's defense."

J.R. Miller, a veteran gambler who runs the Web site, says that while Arizona has a "good, solid defense," the Steelers offense could be the real difference. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger "can sling it around pretty well," Miller says. "If he can avoid the turnovers -- which you can't predict in a game like this -- they could be in pretty good shape."

But it's not that simple.

"The key for the Steelers is also the key for the Cardinals," Tony Miller says. "If that defense can stop the run and force Roethlisberger to make bad throws, then we could be looking at a different ballgame."

Right now, Tony Miller says a lot of the early money is coming in on the Arizona Cardinals. That's not necessarily because gamblers think Arizona will win: The Cardinals are 7-point underdogs, so if they lose by less than that, the money behind them will pay off. And Pittsburgh has a way of keeping games interesting -- more interesting than anxious fans would like.

However, thanks to the Steelers' strong nationwide fan base, Tony Miller predicts quite a bit more money will come down on their side in the days ahead.

And while J.R. Miller says it's still early, he thinks the Steelers are likely to win the Super Bowl.

Does that mean he's putting his own money on the Black and Gold?

"I didn't say that," he says, laughing. "That's a different question all together in this business."



Here's what we wrote in our Professional Gambler Newsletter, Tuesday, January 27, 2009, predicting the Super Bowl. We bet on the Cardinals +7.0 -112 and the 'Over' 46.5 +101:

CARDINALS +7.0 -112 vs. Steelers

Steelers vs. Cardinals OVER 46.5 +101       

        We're pulling the trigger on this game because we're afraid the lines will move against us. We're expecting both the Cardinals and Steelers to score between 23 and 30 points, barring any key turnovers. We look for the Steelers to win the game outright, but we doubt they'll win by more than 7 points. How about maybe 28-23, or 27-24, or 24-23, 28-27.....Something like that. Note we're convinced there's more than a 55% chance of the game producing more than 46 total points. Turnovers might be a deciding factor in this game. Both these teams have an excellent defense, and both these quarterbacks have been known to overheat and get dancing feet.....)                                         (The Steelers won, 27-23)


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