The Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1-1) will look to get their season back on track in Tampa Bay when they face Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buccaneers (2-0) on Monday night (8:15 p.m., ESPN). The Steelers are listed as one-point favorites at most sportsbooks, while the consensus total is 54.5.
Pittsburgh has been a mess on both sides of the ball in 2018. The Steelers barely made it out of Cleveland with a tie after Ben Roethlisberger threw three INTs. Then their defense was put to shame by rookie Patrick Mahomes in his first road game, as the Chiefs won 42-37. Roethlisberger was forced to throw 60 times in that Week 2 contest just to keep his team in the hunt. To bet on Steelers versus Buccaneers go to Sugar House!
The Steelers’ stoppers look to be up against it with the combustible Fitzpatrick-led Tampa offense. The Bucs are second in scoring through two games, dropping 48 on the Saints and 27 on the defending-champion Eagles, who gave a potent Atlanta squad fits in the season opener. They’re also first in passing offense as well as yards per play, and this has been done without establishing a decent run game. Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers have not been called on to carry the ball too often, as Tampa is 28th in rushing yards per game, but they could try to take advantage of the 30th-ranked Pittsburgh rush defense.
Le’Veon Bell is still missing, and Antonio Brown is apparently disgruntled, skipping practice on Monday. But Pittsburgh’s offense is still very potent, as they’re second in passing yards per game, eighth in yards per play, and ninth in points per game. James Conner has been an adequate substitute for Bell, rushing for 152 yards (3.9 yards per carry, three TDs) and receiving for another 105 yards. However, the Steelers’ defense appears to be too big a liability for their high-powered offense to overcome. Discipline, in general, has also been a handicap for Pittsburgh, leading to a minus-4 turnover differential through two games.
Tampa and Pittsburgh couldn’t be trending much differently heading into this Monday night showdown. The Bucs have covered in each of their last five contests, and are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games at Raymond James Stadium. Per oddsshark.com, Tampa has covered in five of their last six games as home underdogs as well.
By contrast, the Steelers have been burning the money of their supporters dating back to last season. Mike Tomlin’s squad has dropped eight of their last nine against the spread overall, and are 3-6 against the spread in their last nine games as road favorites.
All signs point to “Fitzmagic” continuing for at least another week.
Prediction: Buccaneers win, 34-24
The play: Buccaneers +1
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