The Buccaneers will travel to Pittsburgh this weekend to take on a reeling Steelers team that has started 1-4. A loss to the Bucs, dropping the Steelers to 1-5, and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin could be looking at his first losing season since taking over as the Steeler’s head coach in 2007.
This will only be the Buccaneer’s fourth trip to Pittsburgh since 1976. The Bucs are 1-3 all-time in Pittsburgh and notched that first win in Pittsburgh in 2014, 27-24, on a Mike Glennon to Vincent Jackson touchdown pass.
Tom Brady will be making his 16th trip to Pittsburgh, and he has had great success against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Brady is 12-3 in Pittsburgh with 34 touchdown passes and five interceptions.
The Bucs are 3-2 after righting the ship against Atalanta 21-15, after a two-game losing streak.
The Steelers are coming off an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the buffalo bills 38-3. This was the first start for Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett who passed for 327 yards and was picked off once.
Since joining the Bucs in 2020, Brady has faced four rookie quarterbacks and has a 4-0 record in those games.
Tom Brady talked about the challenge the Steelers present.
Steelers Secondary Banged Up For Sundays Game
Both teams come into this six-week matchup banged up. The Steelers will be without a good portion of their secondary as cornerbacks Cameron Sutton, Ahkello Witherspoon, Levi Wallace, and Minkah Fitzpatrick are all out with injuries.
This should bode for Tom Brady and the Buccaneer’s offense, as the Bucs have cranked up the passing game the last two weeks, passing for 736 yards and four touchdowns.
Tight end Pat Freiermuth and defensive end DeMarvin Leal will also be out for the Steelers.
The Steelers will also be without their best defensive player, linebacker TJ Watt who is out with a neck injury.
Consider these numbers if you think Watt does not make a difference in the Steeler’s defense.
No TJ Watt Makes A Huge Difference in The Steelers Defense
The Steelers are 52-24-2 with Watt in the lineup and have yet to win a game when Watt does not play. Pittsburgh is 0-8 with Watt out of the lineup. The Steelers also are giving up seven more points per game without Watt in the lineup.
The Buccaneers are also banged up heading to Pittsburgh. This is the most banged-up the Bucs’ secondary has been this season.
Cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting is out with a quad injury, and safety Mike Edwards is questionable. If Edwards does play, he will wear an elbow brace. Safety Logan Ryan has been ruled out with a foot injury.
Defensive lineman Akeim Hicks is out for the fourth consecutive week, and once again, wide receiver Julio Jones will not play.
The Buccaneers have struggled the last two weeks defensively. After pitching a shutout against Atlanta last week in the first half, the Falcons scored 15 unanswered points, and the Bucs needed a questionable roughing the passer call to put the game away.
The issues have been two-fold for the Buccaneer’s defense. The inability to get off the field on third down and gashed by opponents in the run game.
The Buccaneers are giving up 170 yards on the ground in the last two games and will face another good young running back, Najee Harris.
Harris has been slowed by injuries this season but has still rushed for 222 yards and 3.2 yards per carry.
Final Thoughts And Prediction
If the Bucs’ defense can stop Harris, they will win this game. The ceiling is high for rookie Kenny Pickett, but this Buc’s defense will be a challenge for the young Pickett even though two starters will be out in the secondary.
The Steelers are giving the ball away at a pace not seen in the Mike Tomlin era. Pittsburgh is 26th in the league in giveaways, and you can bet that Todd Bowles will have his opportunistic defense ready for the rookie quarterback.
The Buccaneers are eight-point favorites and should have no trouble covering the spread.
The Bucs will win this one 34-17 to get their third straight road win this season.