2018 has been a season of turmoil for the Steelers and that could continue on Monday when they travel to Tampa Bay to take on the red-hot Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Buccaneers. Pittsburgh opened as a 2.5-point favorite for the contest but that line has since dropped with Tampa receiving the early betting interest.

The total for the Week 3 Monday nighter, while not the highest of the week, is still up in the stratosphere at 54 with the Steelers and Bucs combining to average 66.5 points through their first two games.

SHARK BITES
  • The Steelers are 1-7 ATS in 8 regular-season games since losing Ryan Shazier.
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick has 819 yards and 8 passing touchdowns in two games this season.
  • Le’Veon Bell is not expected to play against the Buccaneers in Week 3.

Steelers vs Buccaneers Game Center

My Best Bet: Buccaneers +7 & UNDER 59.5 6-Point Teaser

Things are not going according to plan for the Steelers this season. Le’Veon Bell is still holding out, Antonio Brown is apparently unhappy and the team has started 0-1-1. It’s difficult to handicap motivation in the NFL or any sport, for that matter, but it’s pretty clear that Pittsburgh isn’t the most cohesive unit right now and I have legitimate concerns that they could fall to 0-2-1 this week.

While I’m not confident enough to take the Bucs at +1, I do like them getting a touchdown plus a converted extra point on the 6-point tease. Tampa’s offense has been firing on all cylinders out of the gates and Pittsburgh’s defense was atrocious against the Chiefs last week.

As for the total, UNDER 59.5 seems pretty solid on the 6-point tease as well. It’s easy to think of the Steelers as this high-octane team that scores at will but when you look at their results on the road, you see a very different picture.

Eighteen of the Steelers’ last 23 road games have gone UNDER their closing total with a combined average of just 39.57 points scored. Mix that with a trend that’s seen nine of the Bucs’ last 12 home games go UNDER and you’ve got a recipe for MNF to stay below its total.

Defense has Been Lost Without Ryan Shazier

Pittsburgh, 1-7 against the spread since losing Ryan Shazier last season, is coming apart at the seams defensively and is in desperate need of a leader on that side of the ball. Shazier was the heart and soul of that unit and it’s become clear over the Steelers’ last eight games just how much he meant to the team.

The Steelers have given up the eighth-most yards this season (776), allowing 152 rushing yards per game. While the Buccos haven’t exhibited their ability to run the ball as yet, I think they make a concentrated effort to get the ground game going in this one.

If Tampa can effectively rush the football with Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers, they can limit Ben Roethlisberger’s time on offense and help UNDER bettors immensely.

Brains (Fitzpatrick) vs BraWn (Big Ben)

Through the first two weeks of the season, the Harvard-educated Ryan Fitzpatrick has been majestic. He leads the NFL in just about every important quarterback statistic and it looks like he’s cemented himself as the Bucs starting quarterback – until he comes back down to earth to join the rest of us regular non-Ivy League dummies.

In the meantime, he’s an incredibly tough fade, especially as a home underdog. Tampa, 5-1 ATS in its last six games as a home dog, has been thriving in this role. The only problem with the line is that the Bucs would have been getting at least 3 points if this line was set before the season and I’m being careful not to overreact to two games, hence the 6-point tease.

Speaking of intelligence, Big Ben has been showcasing the opposite of that so far this season. Pittsburgh is dead last in takeaway/giveaway differential at -4 and unlike in their first game against the Browns, Fitzpatrick will make you pay if you give him the ball.

This is one of the tougher games on the board given Pittsburgh’s inconsistency but by insulating the plays I like with 6 points, I think I’ve got a good shot to stay perfect with my Monday Night Football picks.

The Steelers are 1-7 ATS in 8 regular-season games since losing Ryan Shazier.away Ryan Fitzpatrick has 819 yards and 8 passing touchdowns in two games this season.home Le’Veon Bell is not expected to play against the Buccaneers in Week 3.away
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