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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Point Spread - Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS)
Week 3 NFL
Date/Time: Monday Night Football, September 24, 2018 at 8:15PM EST
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
TV: ESPN

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: PIT -1/TB +1
Over/Under Total: 53.5

The Pittsburgh Steelers come to Raymond James Stadium to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a big week three matchup. If you had to guess before the season started which team would be undefeated and which team wouldn't have won a game by week 3, you'd likely have it all backwards. But Tampa has been excellent, riding Ryan Fitzpatrick and his arm to a great start. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, got a tie in week one after a late meltdown against the Browns, before losing to the Chiefs on Sunday. Who can get the big win on MNF?

The Steelers will be hitting Tampa with a lot of urgency after a 0-1-1 start. Maybe things aren't quite as bad as they look. Sure, you can say the Steelers are off-key or that maybe even the absence of Le'Veon Bell is starting to resonate. But it took some pretty wild twists for them to not win that Cleveland game in week one. And last week, they ran into a team that's a lot better than people thought, as the Chiefs have looked very dangerous led by young gunslinger Patrick Mahomes. In other words, those using the first two games to bury the Steelers might not be on the right track.

Meanwhile, a lot of people are now having to recalibrate their views on the Buccaneers following two impressive games. In week one, they beat the heck out of the Saints, before beating the Eagles in week two. For a team that no one was talking about in the preseason to beat two of the leading conference contenders and the defending Super Bowl champion certainly qualifies as a rousing beginning to the season.

As he has done before, Tampa QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has come out of nowhere and is putting up gigantic numbers, while making good use of the guys around him. Through two games, Fitz has thrown for 819 yards and 8 touchdowns, while also running in a score. They haven't needed to run the ball much, as Fitzpatrick is excelling in dishing out the ball on short plays, as well as airing it out. Both DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans have thrived under Fitzpatrick's stewardship, with 5 combined TDs and 505 receiving yards. Chris Godwin has caught two TDs. A lot of people thought the offense would be lacking without Jameis Winston. Through two weeks, there's a whole different spin on it.

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For Tampa, it's not like their defense has gotten a lot better on paper. Still, we know all the different ways that a prolific offense can help the other side of the ball. Teams get out of their wheelhouse when the opponent is putting up a bunch of points. They have to get away from their run-game and just basically come out of character. Tampa got off to big leads in both of their first two games. Both opponents came on strong to end the games, despite coming up short. Still, the Bucs have given up 61 combined points in their first two games—something to keep an eye on, particularly in a game like this against an offense that can do as much damage as the Steelers.

The Steelers need a positive development. For some teams, a 0-1-1 start wouldn't be a cause for alarm, but when you're a leading conference contender, it's probably time for a heightened sense of urgency to kick in. On top of it, they had a little PR issue with Antonio Brown early in the week, but my assumption is to expect a pretty good team to hit the field on Monday. How good exactly is the real question.

Pittsburgh's offense hasn't been bad despite the start. Ben Roethlisberger is already near 800 yards through two games, but three picks have hurt. Brown is off to a slow start, but JuJu Smith-Schuster has been big, as has rising tight end Jesse James. Running back James Conner was pretty big in week one, but struggled against the Chiefs last Sunday. It's unclear how much not having a dynamic player like Bell will hurt, but there are no free rides when you're without one of the best players in the league. So far this season, the Pittsburgh offense has had a spark, but it's been a sporadic type of output and not as consistent as we're used to seeing.

The Pittsburgh defense has also been looking a bit ragged, especially when it counts. They didn't get much right in week one in what looked to be shaping into a routine win. And in getting lit up by Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs last week, they allowed six aerial touchdowns and were not able to deliver when it counted. In the red zone, they've barely been present through two games. And now they're on the road facing an offense that looks to have found a gusher in terms of newfound energy and hope. Granted, a two-game window is not enough to base a conclusion. And the Chiefs look like they're going to exploit a lot of opposing defenses this season, but they need answers quick. This Monday doesn't look like it's going to get easier.

It's funny because if this were week one, this would be a very different-looking game and point-spread, as well. The Steelers would likely be favored by close to a TD if the Bucs had played according to popular preseason opinion. And I don't necessarily think there is anything fluky about what the Bucs have been able to do. I just think some defensive liabilities will manifest more against the Steelers, as Pittsburgh gets the cover in Tampa.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Pittsburgh Steelers minus 1 point. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Pittsburgh vs. Tampa Bay game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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