Fans are making their final NFL Week 3 picks, and Monday Night Football brings us the Pittsburgh Steelers traveling to Raymond James Stadium to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The NFL action begins at 8:15 p.m. EST on ESPN, and the 0-1-1 Pittsburgh Steelers are hoping to find their first victory against the 2-0 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The last time these two teams met was in September of 2014, and the Bucs got the W with a final score of 27-24. Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh have faced each other a total of 10 times in NFL history, and the Steelers lead the series 8-2.
Roethlisberger Is Still ‘Big Ben’
Most fans didn’t see these teams sitting where they currently are; the Buccaneers are the only undefeated team in the NFC South, and the Steelers are the only team in the AFC North with a goose egg. In Week 1, Pittsburgh found their first tie this season in an intense game against the Cleveland Browns that ended with a score of 21-all. In Week 2, the Steelers fell to the Kansas City Chiefs 42-37.
Patrick Mahomes’ ridiculous skills and Antonio Brown’s child-like antics got most of the attention after the game, but Ben Roethlisberger’s performance in Week 2 shouldn’t be ignored. “Big Ben” completed 39 of his 60 attempts for 452 yards and three touchdowns, including one on the ground, and zero interceptions. Jesse James led the receivers with five receptions for 138 yards and one touchdown, and JuJu Smith-Schuster found 13 receptions for 121 yards and one touchdown. The ground game wasn’t all that impressive last week, but James Conner led with eight carries for 17 yards and one touchdown.
Aside from their locker room issues, the Steelers biggest concern is their defense. Pittsburgh’s D has only forced two turnovers in the first two weeks of NFL action, and they gave up 21 points to the Browns and 42 to the Chiefs. Mahomes melted the Steelers with 326 passing yards for six touchdowns. The defense will get a boost this week, however, as cornerback Joe Haden returns after missing the Week 2 game because of a hamstring injury.
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Magic
“FitzMagic” is wowing Tampa Bay fans during Jameis Winston’s three-game suspension. Up until recently, it was a question if Fitzpatrick would start over Winston after NFL Week 3, and head coach Dirk Koetter had previously said that they would worry about crossing that bridge when they get there. It looks like the Buccaneers decided to make plans on how they would cross that proverbial idiom, because as Sports Illustrated reported, “FitzMagic” will remain the starting quarterback past Week 3. While Fitzpatrick was set to play against Pittsburgh regardless, the Bucs knowing who their long-term signal caller is certainly can’t hurt morale.
In Week 1, the Buccaneers beat the Saints 48-40 in a shootout. The Bucs thrilled NFL audiences in Week 2 when they beat the defending champion the Philadelphia Eagles 27-21. Against the NFL Super Bowl champion, Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 27 of his 33 throws for 402 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.
DeSean Jackson led the air game with four receptions for 129 yards and one touchdown. Mike Evans, O.J. Howard, and Chris Godwin produced a touchdown apiece. But the air game is definitely the Buccaneers’ strong suit, as Peyton Barber led the ground report with just 16 carries for 22 yards. Tampa Bay saw no rushing touchdowns in Week 2. Defensively, Lavonte David produced nine tackles. Kwon Alexander, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Gerald McCoy got a sack apiece.
Picks & Odds For Tampa Bay Buccaneers Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
When this NFL Monday Night Football game first opened, the Steelers were favored at -2.5. As of the time of this writing, the door swung the other way, as most sportsbooks now have the Buccaneers favored at -1.
While “Big Ben” is certainly producing, the Steelers D didn’t bode well against Mahomes, and they will now have to square off against “FitzMagic,” not to mention the morale issues that Pittsburgh seems to be having. Most NFL experts concluded their Week 3 picks by backing Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at -1 in the Monday Night Football game.