Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Pick 8/9/19
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0), 8/9/19
Time: 7:30 pm ET Friday, Aug. 9
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
TV: NFL Network
Point spread: Steelers -2.5
Moneyline: Steelers -140/Bucs +120
The Pittsburgh Steelers begin life without the potent offensive combo of Bell and Brown when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the exhibition season opener for both teams Friday night at Heinz Field. The Steelers missed the playoffs for the first time in five seasons last year, while the Bucs haven’t made the playoffs since 2007. How are we playing this game with our free NFL pick?
NFL Betting Odds
Week 1’s NFL exhibition betting odds opened the Steelers at -3 over the Buccaneers, with an over/under of 37. Early betting action then dipped that line down to -2.5.
Bucs vs. Steelers Set-Up
Tampa Bay canned Coach Koetter after going 5-11 each of the last two seasons and replaced him with Coach Arians. Arians had some success out at Arizona before running out of gas. In five-plus seasons as an NFL head coach with the Colts and Cardinals Arians is 58-33-1 straight up, 52-39-1 against the spread.
The Buccaneers actually started 2-0 last season, then lost 11 of their last 14 games. Seven of those losses came by one score or less, three by three or less.
Over the off-season, Tampa Bay dumped WR DeSean Jackson, added DT Ndamukong Suh, then used its first five picks in April’s draft on defense.
Jameis Winston is still the Bucs’ starting QB, and he may play some Friday night, in an attempt to get familiarized with the new offensive system. The rest of Tampa’s QB depth chart includes cast-off Blaine Gabbert, a guy who’s never thrown a pass in a real NFL game in Ryan Griffin and rookie Nick Fitzgerald.
Heading into this campaign the Buccaneers are listed as regular-season wins total over/under of 6.5.
Tampa Bay actually ranked third in the NFL in total offense last season, averaging 416 yards per game, but 27th in total defense, allowing 383 YPG. No wonder they went big on D in the draft.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is coming off a turbulent 9-6-1 campaign of last year (8-7-1 ATS). The Steelers, with Bell sitting out, reached 7-3 in November but four losses over their last six games spelled doom.
Over the off-season, Pittsburgh officially lost RB Le’Veon Bell to free-agency, then traded mercurial WR Antonio Brown to Oakland. So there are a couple of big holes to fill on that side of the ball for the Steelers.
Ben Roethlisberger is entering his 16th NFL season, but he won’t see much action if any, Friday night. The rest of Pittsburgh’s QB corps includes third-year man Josh Dobbs, second-year man Mason Rudolph and rookie Devlin Hodges.
The Steelers are playing against a regular-season wins O/U of nine.
Pittsburgh ranked fourth in the NFL in offense last season at 403 YPG and sixth in total defense at 327 YPG. Numbers like that are more indicative of an 11-5 team, maybe even 12-4, rather than one that missed the playoffs.
These two teams just met back in Week 3 of last season, resulting in a 30-27 Steelers road win down in Tampa. Pittsburgh won that game as a one-point underdog that night, and the game played over a total of 55 points.
NFL Betting Trends
Coach Arians finished 9-12 SU, 10-10-1 over five exhibition seasons as HC at Arizona.
Pittsburgh is 28-22 SU, 23-26-1 ATS over 12 exhibition seasons under Coach Tomlin.
- Overs played 9-7 in Bucs games last season, which averaged a healthy 54 total points.
- Totals split 8-8 in Steelers games last season, which averaged 49 points.
- Overs, somewhat surprisingly, played 11-6 during Week 1 of exhibition season last year.
Free NFL Pick
Pittsburgh owns the better quarterback situation and the better defense. Coach Arians may try to instill a winning atmosphere right from the start, but he needs the talent to do it, and at the moment he’s lacking in that department. We’ll take the Steelers for our free NFL pick here.