For the past two weeks quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has looked like a superstar, both on and off the field. OK, maybe not off the field, per se, but at least at the podium during his week two postgame press conference. In true Buccaneer fashion, Fitzpatrick raided teammate DeSean Jackson’s locker and stole his gold before speaking with the media just after downing the defending Super Bowl Champion, Philadelphia Eagles.
Fitzmagic has thrown four touchdown passes in each of his first two games and currently leads the NFL in passing yards with 819. If we are being ridiculous, Fitzpatrick is on pace to throw for 6,552 yards with 64 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions. If we are being honest, we know that won’t happen. Fitzpatrick, a Harvard graduate, knows it too. While continuing to repeat what has happened through the first two weeks isn’t maintainable, Fitzpatrick and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are having fun, and that makes them a dangerous team – especially against a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers.
At 0-1-1, the Steelers are having anything but fun. Le’Veon Bell continues to holdout out and Antonio Brown decided to skip Monday’s practice after the Steelers were scorched by the Kansas City Chiefs and their rising star, Patrick Mahomes. The second year quarterback threw for six touchdowns against Pittsburgh last week. Steelers QB, Ben Roethlisberger, did everything he could to get Pittsburgh back in the game while throwing for 452 yards and three touchdowns of his own, but the weaponry on the Chiefs proved to be too much.
If the Steelers plan on heading down to Raymond James Stadium to knock the good vibes out of the Bucs, there’s three things they’ll need to do:
- Win the turnover battle. Headed in to week three, Pittsburgh is tied for dead last in turnover differential. They’ve turned the ball over six times themselves but have only forced two turnovers through the first two weeks. If this game turns in to a shootout and the Steelers fail to come away with any takeaways, they could be in for another high scoring loss.
- Stop the run. Mahomes may have thrown for six touchdowns against them, but where the Steelers have really failed is in run defense. Pittsburgh D has given up an average of 152 rush yards a game, good enough for 30th in the league. They are giving up a whopping 4.8 yards per carry. Luckily for them, the Buccaneers offense is heading in to the contest with just 2.7 yards per carry, the lowest in the NFL.
- Pressure Fitzpatrick. Where the Steelers have found some success on defense is getting to the quarterback. They are tied for fourth in sacks (8) through weeks one and two. Should they fluster Fitzpatrick, they can force him in to making the questionable throws we have seen from him in the past which will in turn allow them to win the turnover battle.
While the Steelers have yet to win a game and Tampa is rolling, there appears to be at least a few people that believe Pittsburgh will turn it around – the Black and Yellow are actually favored by 1.5 points. Are the Bucs going to continue to pillage or will Mike Tomlin and the Steelers get their franchise back on track? We’ll found out on Monday Night Football.
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