The surprising Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking to improve to 3-0 while the Pittsburgh Steelers seek their first victory of 2018. How do the two teams stack up?
Tale of the Tape
Bucs Offense vs. Steelers Defense
Unlike Tampa Bay’s last opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers are tailor-made for the Bucs offense to take advantage of some mismatches. The Bucs have the #1 scoring offense in the NFL, while the Steelers come in at the 28th ranked scoring defense. Tampa Bay is a big play offense (leading the league with 17 plays over 20+ yards) and Pittsburgh’s defense has struggled with explosives (13 plays of 20+ yds or more). That’s a pretty bad recipe for the Steelers, if the Bucs continue to be the explosive offense they have been the first two weeks of the season.
Tampa Bay’s running game has been below average but may get well against Pittsburgh 152.0 yds a game on the ground.
Steelers Offense vs. Bucs Defense
Where the Steelers are extremely dangerous is on offense. Tampa Bay is the #1 scoring and passing offense. Pittsburgh is #2. While they miss Le’Veon Bell, James Connor has been a solid fill-in but he’s not the obvious playmaker Bell is. Antonio Brown is every bit the playmaker he has always been, Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster and the outlaw Jesse James. Big Ben is, of course, a Hall-of-Famer, and can hurt you at any moment.
The Bucs defense is as bad as the Steelers overall, but Tampa Bay is the #2 defense against the run. The Bucs have also surrendered 11 explosives (20+ yard plays). Tampa Bay is getting a little healthier with Brent Grimes returning and possibly first-round pick Vita Vea.
Steelers kicker Chris Boswell has missed both field goals he attempted this year and has also missed an extra point. Meanwhile, Jordan Berry is averaging 41.8 yds a punt. Ryan Switzer is Pittsburgh return man and he’s got a respectable kick and punt return average.
Meanwhile, the Bucs counter with Chandler Catanzaro, whose 2-for-3 on field goals and 9-of-1o of extra points. Bryan Anger is averaging 43.1 yds a punt. Shaun Wilson is averaging a solid 29.0 on kick returns, while Desean Jackson and Adam Humphries do a decent job returning punts.
- Pittsburgh leads the all-time series 8-2.
- Steelers have won 4 of the past 5 meetings.
I fully expect this game to be a shoot-out, but I believe that at this point, the Bucs offensive weapons will be a little bit better than the Steelers offensive weapons. It will be a fun game to watch for the National Television audience and it will likely come down to a turnover. The Bucs (+2) do a better job than Pittsburgh (-4) at protecting the football.
I like the Bucs to go 3-0 and continue to shock the world.
Prediction: Buccaneers 34, Steelers 27