Steelers vs. Buccaneers Preseason Betting Guide: How to Handicap New-Look Bucs
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jameis Winston, Bruce Arians
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Pittsburgh Steelers Betting Odds
- Spread: Steelers -2.5
- Over/Under: 37
- Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
The Steelers host the Bucs in one of two Preseason Week 1 matchups on Friday night. Let’s take a look at key storylines for both teams, complete with betting and daily fantasy analysis.
>> All odds as of Thursday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There’s plenty of optimism in Tampa Bay despite last season’s disappointing 5-11 campaign thanks to new head coach Bruce Arians, who had led three top-10 scoring offenses (2007 Steelers, 2015 and 2016 Cardinals) over his 14 years as an offensive coordinator or head coach in the NFL.
The renowned quarterback whisperer is apparently working with one he loves, as Arians was quick to gush over Jameis Winston shortly after accepting the job back in January:
“I feel like I’ve got a great feel for him, his excitement for the game. His willingness to work is unbelievable. He’s in the office at 5 o’clock in the morning. … The whole thing is going to be built around him. I think he can win it all. I mean, he has the intelligence, the toughness, and obviously the arm, ability to lead a team.”
The bigger issue is the team’s defense, which could be without defensive tackle Vita Vea (leg) and stud linebacker Lavonte David (knee) on Thursday night. Their run defense was an absolute train wreck in 2018 without linebacker Kwon Alexander (now with the 49ers).
Tampa Bay rushing yards allowed per game in 2018:
<Kwon Alexander tears ACL>
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) March 11, 2019
Ben Roethlisberger and Co. have won three-of-four games without Antonio Brown on the field since AB became a featured receiver in 2011. The team success is good, but Big Ben hasn’t demonstrated much upside without his No. 1 sidekick in this small sample size:
- Week 10, 2012 vs. Kansas City Chiefs: 9-18, 84 yards, 1 TD-0 INT
- 2015 Divisional Round at Denver Broncos: 24-37, 339 yards, 0 TD-0 INT
- Week 16, 2017 at Houston Texans: 20-29, 226 yards, 2 TD-0 INT
- Week 17, 2018 vs. Cincinnati Bengals: 31-45, 287 yards, 1 TD-1 INT
(Note that Roethlisberger was injured shortly after the start of halftime in the Chiefs game and didn’t return.)
Quarterbacks performing worse without their No. 1 receiver on the field shouldn’t be that shocking. With that said, the Roethlisberger-Brown connection wasn’t quite what it used to be in 2018, as AB averaged only 7.7 yards per target — tied with Cole Beasley for the 49th-highest mark among 82 receivers with at least 50 targets. Brown led the league in touchdowns (15) and interceptions (11) thrown his way last season.
The good news for the 2019 Steelers is that their offense could perhaps be a bit less volatile when it comes to playing on the road.
Ben Roethlisberger home/away fantasy points per game over the past five years
2014: 25.2 home vs. 14.8 away
2015: 23.5 vs. 14.5
2016: 25.5 vs. 13.8
2017: 21.3 vs. 15.4
2018: 21.5 vs. 21.7
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) July 10, 2019
I lean toward Steelers at home against what might very well be the league’s worst defense.
LEAN: Steelers -2.5