MNF Picks: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Giants
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. New York Giants (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
Week 1 NFL
Date/Time: Monday Night Football, September 14, 2020 at 7:15PM EDT
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
Point Spread: PIT -6/NYG +6 (Intertops - One of web’s oldest and most trusted bookies!)
Over/Under Total: 47
The Pittsburgh Steelers come to MetLife Stadium for a week one Monday Night Football showdown with the New York Giants. You can almost sense the urgency of a Steelers team that has missed the playoffs for the last two seasons. Still, with almost nothing going their way last season, they still salvaged an 8-8 record, making some wonder what they could do if healthy. Well, they are healthy in week one, but face a pretty tricky road test in East Rutherford against the Giants, as new head coach Joe Judge tries to bring the Giants out of the dumps following a 4-12 campaign. Who can start the season right and cover the spread in week one?
A Look at Some Changes
For a team mired in a three-year funk, the Giants didn’t really go after anybody. Sure, they may have scored in the draft with T Andrew Thomas and S Xavier McKinney (out). There were a few signings, mostly of an underwhelming nature, like the acquisition of CB James Bradberry. Getting CB Logan Ryan could pay off if they put him on the outside. But between people opting out and injuries, the Giants already have problems heading into week one. Opting out was LT Nate Solder, and the virus also cost them some depth in the secondary. Receiver Golden Tate and LB Blake Martinez are questionable. For the Steelers, adding Eric Ebron gives Ben Roethlisberger a nice target, but they basically stood pat.
Can the Giants Score Enough to Stay Close?
Even with Tate, the Giants would have been strapped against this Pittsburgh defense. Daniel Jones should get better, and really wasn’t that bad in his rookie season. What could help is the growth of the offensive line, as Thomas joins the fray. Without Solder, they lose some of their run-blocking acumen, which could hurt do-everything back Saquon Barkley. But Jones will be facing a fierce “D” to open the season, and other than Barkley, he’s looking to make it work with Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Darius Slayton.
Jones will be facing the best defensive line in football, and with TJ Watt, Cameron Heyward, and Stephon Tuitt, they really bring the heat and control the line of scrimmage. And when Jones tries to take to the air, he will be dealing with one of the better playmaking safeties in the league in Minkah Fitzpatrick, along with three really good corners in Mike Hilton, Steven Nelson, and Joe Haden. Then, there is a gaggle of youngsters who could blossom, only to make this side of the ball more formidable. I think it’s abundantly fair to wonder aloud if the Giants can really establish a foothold offensively against this bunch.
Same High-Octane Steelers Offense?
Some measure of hope for Giants’ fans can stem from the iffy state of the Steelers’ offense. It seems like every season, Roethlisberger returns to less firepower. A formerly stocked-to-the-brim offense appears a bit thin on paper. Injuries aside, JuJu Smith-Schuster really needs to establish his identity as a number-one receiver after a rough 2019. Having Big Ben in there will help with that. Getting Ebron is a nice option, especially in the red-zone. James Conner is useful and needs to perform big, or Pittsburgh could look elsewhere for production. They have a few nice role receivers like rising Diontae Johnson and James Washington, but they will be relying more on their defense to control games. Still, if this offense were to step up and overperform, they have the offensive line to do it, along with a QB who has typically extracted the most out of the offense.
The main question is if Pittsburgh’s more-subdued offense even matters in this context. The Giants’ defense looms as a major threat to undermine their entire effort. Releasing last season’s first-round corner DeAndre Baker attests to how poorly their defensive moves have panned out recently. They are strong up-front, with Dalvin Tomlinson, BJ Hill, and Leonard Williams, but that’s more from a run-stopping perspective, as the Giants pass-rush is very pedestrian. And not having rookie McKinney in there erases almost all promise for a secondary that really needed a boost. For as many issues the Giants have on offense, it’s this side of the ball that makes taking the Giants a difficult move.
Week One Intangibles
While it’s an out-of-conference game for the Steelers against a team with whom they have no real connection, it’s a key game. The Ravens are still powerful. Cleveland looks primed to improve. If the Steelers are going to be a factor in the AFC North, they need to win games like this. In week one, I’d expect the urgency to be higher than if it were, say, a week 11 game. After two years out of the playoffs, the Steelers mean business, and the Giants won’t enjoy any mental-falloff from their opponent, as can sometimes happen when teams take on low-end squads. The Giants also start the season a little down on personnel, with this home game also lacking the power of a normal home game with no crowd.
Lay the Number of the Road Favorite
I don’t see this as a lost cause for the Giants. Maybe their defense can hold their own against a Steelers’ offense that isn’t what it used to be. With the Steelers likely to focus on Saquon Barkley, maybe someone like Evan Engram can have a big game. Jones, who showed promise, can perhaps take a step forward and make his aerial package look better than it appears to be now. But even if some of that happens, I suspect the extra edge on Roethlisberger, along with that Pittsburgh defense, to largely control the flow of this game. I’ll take the Steelers.
Loot’s Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Pittsburgh Steelers minus 6 points. Bet your Week 1 NFL picks for FREE by taking advantage of a 100% real cash bonus up to $300 at MyBookie Sportsbook!
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