Week 3 in the NFL concludes with a tilt between the Steelers and the Bucs this Monday night. For this game and every other primetime contest, we’ll break down the sports betting lines and recommend how to place your bets at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, and BetStars Sportsbook.
Keep an eye on injury news right up until kick off since things can change quickly in the NFL. Any player listed as questionable may see limited action or not suit up at all if they don’t respond well in warm-ups.
Week 3 Monday Night Football Sports Betting
Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Bucs
Over/Under Total: 53.5
The Steelers (+1) opened as three-point underdogs before money began to flow in on their side of the line. At home against a defense that’s been pulverized by the Browns and the high-powered Chiefs, Ryan Fitzpatrick and his dangerous receiving corps draw a juicy matchup in which to cement his case to keep the starting QB job when Jameis Winston is eligible to return in Week 4.
Fitzpatrick threw for a league-high 817 yards and 8 touchdowns to just one interception through his first two contests, surprisingly showing no signs of regression against an elite Eagles defense last week.
Now he faces a Steelers unit that ranks 21st in DVOA pass defense to open the season and is beset by injuries in the secondary. Pittsburgh’s top CB Joe Haden (hamstring) is expected to play, but at less than full strength, he could get burnt by the physical Mike Evans. Artie Burns (toe) has been ineffective on the other side of the field, while SS Morgan Burnett (groin) is doubtful.
Since losing ILB Ryan Shazier to a scary back injury last Week 13, Pittsburgh has coughed up a notable 29 PPG. The Steelers were solid against the run last year, but rank 27th in DVOA rush defense after two games this season. While Peyton Barber has struggled to find running room as the Bucs featured back, he could hit pay dirt in what projects to be a very high-scoring game.
Evans has seen a team-high 19 targets through two games and DeSean Jackson has been a premier deep threat with Fitzpatrick at the helm, leading the NFL in aDOT by 2.1 yards. There are signs of regression, however, as Fitzpatrick is completing 78.7% of his passes despite throwing deep very often, and Jackson has managed to corral all 9 of his targets at an average of 30.2 yards per reception.
Should the deep ball fail them, the Bucs may have trouble reaching their expected point total of 27.25 against a charged-up Steelers team that is desperate for their first win.
Second-year TE O.J. Howard could serve as a valuable safety outlet for Fitzpatrick, as the Steelers rank 20th in DVOA pass defense against opposing TEs. Howard seems to have won out in a timeshare with Cameron Brate after logging 89 snaps (72%) through two games.
This is an intriguing spot for the Steelers to find their rhythm and bounce back amidst locker room turmoil. The line has grown closer since opening with the Steelers (+3) on some sportsbooks, indicating that the public is banking on Pittsburgh showing its colors as a contender on Monday night.
The center of that turmoil, Antonio Brown, shouldn’t lose any work after missing Monday’s film session. In fact, “AB” might get “squeaky wheel treatment” in a fantastic matchup against a Bucs team that’s allowed a league-high 77.4% completion rate and ranks 28th in DVOA pass defense through two games.
If you’ll recall, last Week 14, Ben Roethlisberger didn’t see Brown on a potential long TD at Baltimore, and the diva receiver was notably upset on the sidelines. The next Sunday, Brown caught 10-of-14 targets for 110 yards and a TD. He has the most upside of any skill position player on the slate and warrants “MVP” consideration in Showdown DFS contests on DraftKings and FanDuel.
Bucs top CB Brent Grimes (groin) is a bit hobbled and Tampa will be without secondary CB Vernon Hargreaves (shoulder) and SS Chris Conte (knee) in this matchup. Tampa is also missing DTs Vita Vea (calf) and Beau Allen (foot), which may open up more running lanes.
The Bucs are still far more vulnerable against the pass with elite DT Gerald McCoy lurking in the middle of that line, so look for James Conner to be used more effectively as a receiver. Conner has shown impressive ball skills with 10 catches for 105 yards through his first two starts and he’s locked into every-down usage.
Through two games, Conner saw the most carries inside the 5-yard line and third-most targets inside the 10-yard line. His prospects to pile up yardage on the ground lessen with pro-bowl guard David DeCastro (hand) ruled out and RT Marcus Gilbert (hamstring) questionable.
Brown is a tournament play, but in the likely event that the Bucs bracket him with coverage, look for JuJu Smith-Schuster to reap the benefits. The second-year burner is emerging as a true threat with the most red zone targets (8) in the NFL through two games and he’ll operate in the slot, a very vulnerable area against Tampa’s Cover 2-based scheme.
Those same openings should be available to plodding TE Jesse James, who parlayed double coverage on Brown into five catches for 138 yards and a TD in Week 2. James is a decent source of salary relief with the potential to pay off if he scores.
Ben Roethlisberger is still showing plenty of arm strength and the ability to extend plays. Throughout his career, he’s been worse on the road, but excellent in prime time games with a 96.7 passer rating.
Banking on the veteran to keep the Steelers close and potentially pull off a road win is a viable betting strategy. That would be precluded by solid coaching and game-planning from HC Mike Tomlin and DC Keith Butler, both of whom have struggled in recent weeks.
If they can parse enough weaknesses from game tape of Fitzpatrick and the Bucs, the Steelers defense should hold strong enough to put their high-powered offense in position to succeed.
Big line swing in this one as it’s moved four points towards the Bucs. If you’re a Steeler backer, this is good news for you. The Total has rocked up from an opening number around 50 to where it sits currently at 53.5-54, which can be accounted to 75% of the tickets and 78% of the money taking the Over as of this writing.
Taking Pittsburgh (+1) and the Under would be a way to double down on Fitzpatrick regressing, as he has throughout his career. If you don’t think either secondary can stop either passing attack, roll with this game going over 53.5 points.
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