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Steelers Vs Buccaneers Prediction

As we’ve done in the past, the keys to the Pittsburgh Steelers winning (or losing) today’s game. Three things that need to happen for them to end up on the right side of the score and vice versa in today’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

My prediction is at the bottom.

THE STEELERS WILL WIN IF…

1. Offense Hits (Multiple) Double-Explosive Plays

Starting here only because “divine intervention” wasn’t allowed to be put on this side of the ledger. Historic underdogs like Pittsburgh win when they can hit the chunk play and swing the tide of a game. And oh boy do the Steelers need that this weekend. The problem? It hasn’t happened all year. As Dave Bryan has noted, Pittsburgh’s offense has zero runs of 20+ yards and zero completions of 40+ yards. Unless Tom Brady throws six interceptions, there’s no way the Steelers can win this game without those numbers changing. A 60-yard touchdown is going to be required in this one. At least Tampa Bay’s secondary is a little beat up. Of course, so was Buffalo’s and of course, so is the Steelers.

Divine intervention?

2. Defense Tightens Up In Red Zone

Situational ball is always the name of the game but doubly so here. Tom Brady’s going to move the ball. Always has, always will. Just need to accept that reality. The goal will be to hold drives to field goals, no touchdowns. That means defending the middle of the field on skinny posts and in-cuts once Tampa Bay gets inside the 20. It’s an obvious point but an important one. Tampa’s red zone offense is only average this year so it hasn’t been a particularly strong spot.

3. Malik Reed Proves His Worth

There’s still no T.J. Watt. And now there’s not even DeMarvin Leal. Since Week Two, Pittsburgh had been leaning heavily on their 3-3-5 defense with Leal as a stand-up rush end along with moving him plenty along the Steelers’ front. Especially with Leal;s injury occurring late-week, they’re going to play more conventional packages which will mean more Reed. With just six pressures and no sacks all season, Reed has been underwhelming. He has a tough matchup against Tristian Wirfs but Reed is going to be a guy who must step up. This rush must protect its depleted secondary.

The Steeler Will Lose If…

1. LBs Devin White And Lavonte David Run Free

The “lose” list was just a bit easier to come up with. My biggest concern is the Steelers’ need to control big nose tackle Vita Vea. As Mike Tomlin said Tuesday, you need “four hands” to block him. Meaning, double-team blocks. That begs the question – how do you get to the linebackers? Tampa Bay has two great ones in White and Davis, two guys who literally never come off the field, playing 100% of the defense’s snaps, and Pittsburgh’s already done a poor job this year climbing to the second level. Not sure how Pittsburgh figures this one out and if they can’t, the run game will gain no traction.

2. Mike Evans Can’t Be Stopped

The Bucs’ #1 threat, Evans has been a big-pay machine this year. Just 20 receptions but averaging nearly 16-yards per catch and three touchdowns. He’s a guy who can take over a game. Pittsburgh is missing its top three corners in this one and Josh Jackson/James Pierre or whoever the Steelers trot out are going to have to make plays. Those guys have the size but the talent? It’s going to be a challenge.

3. Pittsburgh Runs Out Of Bullets

The Steelers are going to have to go all Die Hard and use a helicopter. Because they’re out of bullets. Injuries are bad enough. But Pittsburgh had been compensating by offering up as many different looks and personnel groupings, trying to win on the whiteboard instead of with pure talent. Mixing and matching against personnel, rotating coverages, using all the people available to them for different fronts and coverages. But with how depleted this group is getting, they may be running out of new ideas. And that’ll doom them because they sure don’t have the talent to win on that alone.

Prediction

Buccaneers: 27
Steelers: 13

Season Prediction Record

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