The 0-1-1 Pittsburgh Steelers will travel to Tampa Bay to take on 2-0 Buccaneers for the season’s third Monday night matchup. Both teams are coming off very different weeks and appear to be headed in opposite directions. The Buccaneers continued their surprising start with a 27-21 home victory over the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. Tampa Bay has now started 2-0 for only the second time in the past 13 seasons. Pittsburgh remained winless with a 42-37 loss at home to the Kansas City Chiefs. Running back Le’Veon Bell has sat out both games and it doesn’t appear at this time he will be back for this week’s game.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has been nothing short of great as Jameis Winston’s replacement while he sits out his suspension. He finished with a passer rating of 144.4 as he completed 27 of 33 passes for 402 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. In 2 starts this season he has thrown for over 800 yards and 8 touchdowns. His favorite target was Mike Evans who had 10 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. DeSean Jackson also had a big game with 4 catches for 129 yards, which included a 75-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter. If there was a negative for the offensive it was their struggle running the ball. They gained just 43 yards on 23 carries, which is an average of just 1.9 yards per rush. Defensively, they recovered 2 fumbles and sacked Nick Foles 3 times. They struggled with the deep ball as Philadelphia had 3 receivers catch passes that gained at least 30 yards.
The Eagles defense simply could not stop Pat Maholmes and the Chiefs offense last week. Mahomes threw 6 touchdown passes and finished with a passer rating of 154.8. They forced 1 turnover by recovering a fumble and sacked Mahomes just once. They also struggled against the run as the Chiefs gained 127 yards on 25 carries, which is an average of over 5 yards per rush. Offensively, Ben Roethlisberger completed 39 of 60 passes for 452 yards 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions and it still wasn’t enough. His favorite target was JuJu Smith-Schuster who had 13 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. Without Bell, the running game has really struggled and last week was no different. They ran for just 33 yards on 13 carries, which is an average of 2.5 yards per carry.
Tampa Bay has the better record and home field advantage and will still be 1.5-point underdogs in this game. They have gone 2-0 against the spread this season while the Steelers have gone 0-2. The Steelers could get a boost on defense with the return of cornerback Joe Haden who missed last week. He returned to practice and is expected to play in this game. Bell has until 4pm Saturday to sign his tender to be eligible to play this week and its not clear yet if he will do so.