Free Buccaneers vs. Steelers NFL Picks with Bonus Prop

Kevin Stott

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 3:35 PM GMT

The scuffling Tampa Bay Buccaneers head to The Steel City and Heinz Field to see if they can get their first win of the season against Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in NFL Week 4 action.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7 -115, 44½, bet365)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT:

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3 SU, 0-3 ATS) are making a strong case for being the NFL’s worst team early on this season and heading into Pittsburgh and Heinz Field to play the Steelers (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) in an interconference date in Week 4 isn’t exactly the time or place you want to try to get your first win. The Buccaneers rank dead last (#32) in the NFL in passing (162.3 ypg) and have scored 14, 17 and 14 points in losses to the Panthers, Rams and Falcons. Luckily for Tampa Bay, there’s another rat playing professional football in the Sunshine State (Jaguars 0-3 Su, 0-3 ATS), so, at least the Bucs can rest assured that the jury will be deliberating for many months on which team is really the worst. One thing’s for sure: The Buccaneers have not covered the spread yet in three games and the 7-points (and inching up Tuesday) listed on the NFL odds boards just seems a little light. In fact, Tampa Bay lost its last three against the number to end the 2013 NFL season so this team has lost 6 straight ATS heading in to this game.

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Injuries Will Also Be A Big Concern For Tampa; Is This Good for the Steelers?
The biggest injury concern midweek in this game was starting Buccaneers QB Josh McCown (420 passing yards, 2 TDs), who was listed as doubtful with a thumb injury after meeting with a specialist on Monday. A report said that McCown will be re-evaluated later to see if he needs surgery to repair ligament damage on his right thumb—his throwing hand. If McCown can’t go and it looks like he won’t, Mike Glennon (2-4 ATS Away, 2-1 ATS Underdog) will get the call at QB for Tampa. The Buccaneers also have injuries to RB Doug Martin (knee), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle), DT Gerald McCoy (hand) and talented WR Vincent Jackson (wrist), all of whom are listed as questionable here against the Steelers (8-8 LY, 9-7 ATS). But expecting Jackson and others to play here wouldn’t be a stretch.

Pittsburgh has its own share of injuries, but not to the degree the Bucs do in this one. It’s not actually even close, and between having Lovie Smith as their head coach and all those guys listed above hurt is worth probably worth a total of 4-5 points in this one, not counting the Steelers presumed 3-point advantage for being at home in the friendly confines of Heinz Field. Pittsburgh RBs Dri Arder (ankle) and Ryan Shazier (knee), WR Martavis Bryant (shoulder) and G Ramon Foster (ankle) are all listed as questionable and LB Jarvis Jones as out against Tampa Bay but, overall, head coach Mike Tomlin and his team are relatively healthy here and have to feel good after spanking the Panthers in Carolina on Sunday (34-19) and suddenly realizing they have a pretty darn good rushing attack (#1 in NFL averaging 163.3 ypg) and a potential star in the making in RB Le’Veon Bell (53 rushes, 315 yards, TD) who has had rushing games of 109/59/147 yards to start off the 2014 NFL season.

 

Odds, Trends and What Do To Try To Create Some Logical Bets Here
With the Total Points in this game set at 42½ and the Bucs coming in with a backup QB (Glennon) on a winless team on the road against a team historically known for playing solid defense, it seems the Under is worth a look. The Steelers will continue to run Bell while he’s hot, and a low-scoring sputtering first quarter (Highest Scoring Quarter +500, bet365) will likely ensue, which will help set a lethargic pace on the grass in Pittsburgh. And after playing two Unders to start the season, the Total in the Tampa Bay’s game flew Over last Sunday in Atlanta (O47) with 70 points being scored as the Falcons handed Tampa Bay it third straight loss straight up and against the spread, 56-14. The Steelers Total Points (27, Stan James) and Buccaneers Total Points (18½) numbers seem pretty accurate heading in although the Bucs may have trouble under Glennon if the Steelers defense shows any early fire. Pittsburgh may very well be ahead throughout this one, so the Lead At The End Of Every Quarter (Steelers +137, bet365) prop bet with the small plus may end up providing good value if the home team can score a 7 first and stay as confident as they were in Carolina. 

The Team To Score First (Steelers -183, Bucs +130, Bwin) prop here seems like a prudent and logical wager with the Steelers -183 likely hitting because of a Shaun Suisham field goal or a touchdown from Bell or WRs Antonio Brown (22 receptions, 206 yards, 3 TDs, 13.5 ypc) or Markus Wheaton (15 receptions, 170 yards, 11.3 ypc) or maybe even the not-so-nimble Roethlisberger (46-35-2 ATS Home, 50-48-2 ATS Off Win). The Steelers To Win (Moneyline) is a good but extremely pricey wager at -350 (Buccaneers +275, William Hill) and should probably be used as a parlay element if you think Pittsburgh wins here to avoid a 2-2 start. And another prop bet worth looking into, as always, is the Anytime TD Scorer props markets when they come out with the aforementioned Pittsburgh RB Le’Veon Bell as the prime choice.

Trend-wise, the host Steelers seem to have the edge as the Buccaneers are 0-4 ATS in their L4 against Pittsburgh (1-5 L6 ATS), 1-4 L5 ATS Road and, as mentioned, have L6 straight ATS heading in here counting the last three last season. Tampa was also 2-5 ATS as a Road Underdog (RD) last season while the Steelers were 3-2 ATS at home as favorites (HF). The Buccaneers have only scored 16 total points in their last two games against the Steelers—a 38-13 home loss as 2½-point underdogs in 2010 and a 20-3 humbling here in Pittsburgh back in 2006 where the Steelers were a similar 7-point favorites. But this one can’t be 20-3, can it? Nope. It’s not 2006 anymore.

If you’re going to add the Steelers to your NFL picks (73 PF-72 PA), this might be the type of game to buy the ½ point if it’s at 7½ before game-time as a 24-17 or 20-13 Pittsburgh final scoreline would be a tough pill to swallow knowing it (the point spread) was at 7 and that 7 is such a key number in the NFL. Tampa Bay (45 PF-95 PA) will be intent on not allowing another 56 points as it did to NFC South rival Atlanta last week and the Steelers will probably get Tampa Bay’s best game as an 0-4 start would/will be the reason we start hearing about what a bad job Lovie Smith is doing with the team. This is a pretty tough game to bet, but the Steelers ATS run against the Bucs combined with Tampa Bay’s ineptitude and own 6-game ATS slide makes Pittsburgh the logical side but anything over 7 seems a bit jagged.

Maybe a small shot on the Under 44½ makes more sense in this situation with a line possibly inflated a couple of points due to the Falcons blowout and Pittsburgh’s improved Rushing (#1 NFL) and Passing (#11th) attacks, against three pretty decent teams in the Browns, Ravens and Panthers to start the season. Supporting this position, the Under is 14-6 L20 Buccaneers games and 5-1 ATS L6 in this Bucs-Steelers series. 

But quite possibly the best value here lies in a unique fairly priced prop. You can bet Bell to be rewarded with his second rushing TD of the year (Anytime TD Scorer) against a Tampa Bay team that’s 21st in the NFL against the run (125.3 ypg). If Glennon can get off to a good start, this game could be closer than many are expecting. If not, it’s goodnight Irene and Tampa Bay may be looking for another new head coach in the offseason. 

FREE PICK: Under 44½ (bet365)

FREE PROPS PICK: Le’Veon Bell Anytime TD Scorer (Steelers)