Steelers-Bucs MNF Betting Guide: What to Make of Massive Line Movement

Steelers-Bucs MNF Betting Guide: What to Make of Massive Line Movement article feature image
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USA Today Sports. Antonio Brown and Mike Evans

Betting odds: Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Spread: Steelers +1
  • Over/Under: 54
  • Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: ESPN

>> All odds as of Sunday evening. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets


Betting market: Nearly 60% of bettors are taking Ryan Fitzpatrick and the 2-0 Bucs as small home favorites at the time of writing (see live data here).

There has been no shortage of line movement, either: The Steelers got as high as 3-point favorites in some spots, but they’re now 1-point underdogs at most shops.

Something that pretty much everyone has agreed on is that there will be points galore in this game. Tampa’s high-scoring ways and Pittsburgh’s porous defense have led to nearly 80% of bets and dollars on the over, which has driven the line up from 50 to 53.5/54. Mark Gallant

Trends to know: The big line movements Mark describes are often a market overreaction to recent events. And that’s particularly the case when the swings occur in prime-time games.

The public is clearly buying the hype with Fitzpatrick’s hot start (78.7% completion rate, eight TDs, one interception), but I’d be wary of falling into that trap.

According to our Bet Labs data (since 2003), it has been profitable to bet against large line movement (two or more points) in prime-time games: 87-61-5 (59%) ATS. John Ewing

Along the same lines of John’s note: This over/under opened at 50 last weekend and has been bet all the way up to 54.5/55 in some spots.

Some contrarian trends to consider:

  • When two teams that are averaging at least 28 PPG face off and the total increases from the opening to closing lines, the under is 20-10 (+8.7 units).
  • When the total increases from the opening to closing lines with an over/under of 50 or more in a prime-time game, the under is 33-23-2 (+7.7 units).
  • The under is 25-15 (+9.1 units) when just a third of the money or less is on the under in a prime-time game. (At the time of writing, just 23% of the money was on the under.)

And now a word of caution: This is the first time in our 15-plus-season database when two teams averaging 28+ PPG on offense and allowing 28+ PPG on defense will meet. Welcome to Monday Night Football! Evan Abrams

Injury watch: The Buccaneers could face the Steelers without the services of two key starters in the secondary: Chris Conte (knee) and cornerback Brent Grimes (groin) are both questionable for Monday night.

Their presence is especially vital considering the team’s defensive line will be without defensive tackles Beau Allen (foot) and Vita Vea (calf).

The Steelers defense will welcome back defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (shoulder) and cornerback Joe Haden (hamstring) to the lineup, but safety Morgan Burnett (groin) is doubtful and not expected to suit up Monday night.

The biggest issue is the team’s offensive line, as right tackle Marcus Gilbert (hamstring) and right guard David DeCastro (hand) aren’t expected to play. Ian Hartitz

Did you know? Believe it or not, Fitzpatrick leads all NFL quarterbacks with 13.4 yards per attempt. That could spell trouble for a Steelers defense that has allowed a league-leading seven completions of 20-plus yards.

Speaking of FitzMagic, he has thrown for 400+ yards in each of the first two games of the season. He’s the first QB to do so since Tom Brady in 2011 (and third in NFL history).

Brady ended up throwing four picks in a Week 3 loss to the Bills, who had none other than Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. Stuckey

DFS edge (Steelers): Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster are obviously the top two dogs in the Steelers’ passing game, but don’t sleep on rookie James Washington.

He deserves a long look as a boom-or-bust/DFS tournament option considering he played 80% of the offense’s snaps and saw five targets in Week 2.

Washington ranks second among all receivers with an average target depth of 26 yards (minimum five targets) entering Week 2, and faces off against the Buccaneers’ 31st-ranked defense in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. Ian Hartitz

DFS edge (Buccaneers): DeSean Jackson is fantasy’s PPR WR3 entering Week 2, catching all nine of his targets for a league-leading 275 yards and three touchdowns.

D-Jax has made the most of his opportunities so far, but 63 other wide receivers have seen more targets through two weeks.

The Buccaneers’ pecking order at wide receiver isn’t exactly comforting for Jackson:

  • Mike Evans snap and target-share percentage: 78% and 32%
  • Chris Godwin: 60.5% and 16%
  • Adam Humphries: 59% and 12%
  • Jackson: 44% and 15%

The lesson? Evans remains the undisputed alpha in Tampa Bay with FitzMagic or Jameis Winston under center. Ian Hartitz

Bet to watch: Steelers +1

Pittsburgh should benefit more from the extra day of rest since it has some injury concerns.

The Steelers should have no issue moving the ball against a Tampa Bay defense that’s allowing 6.6 yards per play (third-most in the NFL). (Last year, the Bucs allowed a league-high 6.0 yards per play.)

Through two weeks, opposing QBs have not really tested Tampa’s vulnerable secondary, with Drew Brees and Nick Foles combining to go only 3-of-6 for 92 yards and one TD on attempts at least 20 yards downfield.

No QB has dropped back to pass more than Ben Roethlisberger this season (110), and only 25.5% of his passes came under pressure (eighth-lowest mark this season).

He should have all day to throw Monday night against a Bucs team near the bottom of the league in sack percentage this season.

Roethlisberger and coach Mike Tomlin are 58.5% against the spread after a straight-up loss, including 63.6% ATS on the road and 64.7% ATS in prime time. Side with the Steelers on Monday night. Evan Abrams


Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.