One of the truly great things about the return of NFL football has been the opening week, Monday night double-header. It’s always a great night of action to end off Week 1 and the 2016 edition should be no different. The Pittsburgh Steelers are a trendy Super Bowl pick by many experts, and with their electric offense and revamped defense, I tend to agree. They’ll be looking to begin their season on a high note as they travel to D.C. to take on a Washington team that definitely thinks they’ve got a shot in a wide-open NFC East. They made a couple key acquisitions this off-season, most notably poaching the supremely talented Josh Norman from an NFC rival in the Carolina Panthers.
Even without Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell, who are both suspended for the black and yellow, Pittsburgh brings a lot to the table and will be looking at this standalone Monday night spot to put on a bit of show. Expect an exciting and high-scoring affair on Monday evening, and read on below for full coverage and betting prediction of the Steelers vs. Redskins.
Steelers vs. Redskins Betting Odds:
Pittsburgh Steelers -3 (-115)
@ Washington Redskins +3 (-105)
Over 50 (-110)
Under 50 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Steelers vs. Redskins Pick:
Washington’s quarterback Kirk Cousins made a bit of a name for himself back in 2015 with his new trademark saying of ‘You Like That!?’ and it definitely caught on both in Washington and around the league. While Cousins definitely broke out last year, this season defenses have certainly caught on to the former Michigan St. Spartan and things should be a bit tougher for him this time around. One weakness in previous seasons for Pittsburgh has been a relatively porous defensive unit. This is not the stout Steelers’ defensive units of past years, but it remains one that should be able to limit the effectiveness of Cousins and the ‘Skins attack on Monday evening.
For starters, Pittsburgh has completely revamped their secondary and it figures to be improved with the additions of Justin Gilbert and others. When you consider the fact that the Redskins running back situation is riddled with uncertainty, Cousins will look to move the ball through the air. With Matt Jones reportedly being 50/50 to suit up, the onus will fall on the untested Robert Kelley for the ground game – definitely something that is not concerning the Steelers. Expect Pittsburgh to lay back and focus on stopping Washington through the air, mainly DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed. They were 13th in the NFL in defending the pass last season according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA, despite giving up far more points and yardage. This is a capable group and one that can limit Cousins on Monday night.
The Steelers on offense are truly a sight to behold. They can burn any defense and should be able to overwhelm the Redskins on Monday evening, both on the ground and through the air. While Washington does have a tendency to get pressure to opposing quarterbacks, that is nothing new for the evasive Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben is a master at keeping plays alive, and when he does look for him to find Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton with regularity. Pittsburgh has also shown signs of mixing in a no-huddle offense, as seen during their third pre-season game against New Orleans. The result was two TD’s and look for more of that against Washington. Even without Bell, Pittsburgh can still utilize the run game to further open up passing lanes. DeAngelo Williams will be the starter for the first three games, and should enjoy a very productive night against Washington. The ‘Skins were brutal defending the run last season and look for the Steelers to exploit that early and often.
While Pittsburgh is without some key pieces, especially on offense, they’re deep and talented enough to exploit the mistakes that Washington will present them with. Even with Josh Norman now donning the red and yellow, nobody is stopping Antonio Brown and Big Ben, and look for the Steelers to escape D.C. with a narrow victory to begin their season.
PICK = Steelers -3 (-115)