After a rough couple of days personally, just time for a quick look at Monday night’s game. Just glad to still be here typing.
Steelers at Buccaneers
When I did my season predictions, I had the Steelers overlooking this one as a trap game and losing to a Tampa Bay team I had finishing 3-13. What a difference a few weeks can make. Now this game is a pick ’em and the Buccaneers are flying high behind Ryan Fitzpatrick while the Steelers are 0-1-1 and fading fast. They’re about one more bad headline away from getting their own Ronan Farrow feature.
Oddly enough, I like the Steelers to win on Monday now. I think they can put much of this drama behind them and play well against a team they should match up well with. So much of Fitzpatrick’s success so far has been nailing the deep balls. They have the weapons to do that with, but Fitzpatrick has never proven he can sustain this level of play for any extended period of time. It’s also typically not a sustainable strategy against Pittsburgh, a defense that for years is more vulnerable to spread, dink-and-dunk assaults. If Fitzpatrick holds the ball long to set up vertical shots, then I think T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward can get to him. Joe Haden returning to the secondary can help. Tampa Bay’s also dead last in rushing YPC (2.7) so it’s a pretty one-dimensional attack. Fitzpatrick came into this season with 13 TD passes of 50+ yards. He has four in two games with a pair in each win. I know the Steelers had some problems last year with giving up long scoring passes, but I really think they can avoid getting beat by the early deep balls that the Saints and Eagles couldn’t survive.
On the other side of the ball, there’s not much of a secondary in Tampa Bay. I think Ben Roethlisberger and his receivers, including Antonio Brown, can have another big game. Even if Ben and Brown aren’t on the same page yet, JuJu Smith-Schuster still looks great, Jesse James had a big game with Ben’s improvising, and James Washington caught his first touchdown last week. The weapons are there even without Le’Veon Bell. I also think the offensive line can hold up against that front seven, the strength of Tampa’s D.
It may very well have to be a shootout, but I like the Steelers to restore some order in this one and get a win before this season goes totally off the rails.
NFL Week 3 Predictions
I thought I was going to fall to 0-3 on TNF, but the Browns came through after putting Baker Mayfield in the game.
I think this is a perfect week to do a teaser with some of the big favorites. Make it PHI -1, JAX -3.5, MIN -11, KC -1, LAR -1, NE -1. And I also like PIT +6 and ARI +12 (the latter because Steve Wilks might get fired before October if things don’t start to resemble an NFL team).
Trying something different with the weekly summary. I’m not a big fan of how the red comes through here so might tinker with it.