- Ben Roethlisberger returns after missing most of 2019 season with an elbow injury
- The 2020 Giants offense will look a lot like the 2019 version
- The Giants were home dogs of 6-or-more points twice last season (0-2 SU & ATS)
While it’s true that the Mason Rudolph / Duck Hodges quarterback committee failed with flying colors last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers did finish 7-2-2 against the spread over their last 11 games. That record is a testament to the strength and consistency of Pittsburgh’s stout defense and where they’ll hang their hat, should Ben Roethlisberger’s last hurrah fall flat. Eli Manning passed the torch to Daniel Jones, while the Giants’ secondary spent most of the season getting torched. Though they made efforts to improve defensively this offseason, New York, 4-12 straight up and 7-9 ATS last season, are expected to allow chunk plays throughout the 2020 campaign.
|Week 1: Pittsburgh Steelers vs New York Giants Game Info|
|Date: September 14, 2020, 7:15 p.m. ET|
|Stadium: MetLife Stadium|
|TV Coverage: ESPN|
|Opening Odds: Steelers -3 | O/U 48.5|
|How to Bet: Best Online Sportsbook Reviews|
Pittsburgh opened as a 3-point home favorite, but Steelers’ backers boosted it up to PIT -6 the past few days. The Giants’ moneyline opened at +150, but is up to 2-to-1-or-better at most online sportsbooks. The point total opened at 48.5 before a slight dip to 47 / 47.5 at most books. The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Pittsburgh’s last 8 games.
The Giants covered in four of their last six games to end 2019’s regular season, but were just 1-5 ATS in their last six home games.
Pittsburgh Steelers News and Notes
The upgrade at quarterback is stating the obvious as even a regressing Roethlisberger is better than what Pittsburgh trotted out there last fall. However, the trickle-down impact of Big Ben’s return can’t be understated when we still don’t know what JuJu Smith-Schuster can be in an Antonio Brown-less offense. On the opposite side, Diontae Johnson made the most of his rookie campaign under sub-optimal conditions when he caught 59 passes for 680 yards and five touchdowns.
The offensive line is among the top 10 best according to Pro Football Focus’ annual rankings, which when facing the Giants may not matter due to their lack of pass rushing threats.
But the crème de le crème is Pittsburgh’s defense, where the pass rush is above-average, the linebacking corps anchored by Devin Bush and a secondary that is second to none after trading for Minkah Fitzpatrick before the trade deadline. This unit will dare Daniel Jones to beat them with his arm and based on their most-recent track record, Jones will lose that battle.
The byproduct of Rudolph and Hodges’ poor quarterback play was that opposing defenses could load up against the rush. James Conner missed six games due to injury (which he tried to play through to help the team’s playoff chances), while Benny Snell Jr. fell short of 4.0 yards per carry. This can be rectified with a stable quarterback, but if Roethlisberger is a shell of his former self, this unit isn’t in a position to carry the load.
New York Giants News and Notes
The Joe Judge hire injects some fresh ideas into a young team that he can develop and build around. While most Cowboys fans haven’t stopped laughing since New York hired Jason Garrett to be the team’s offensive coordinator, perhaps the “clap master” is better suited in a coordinator role.
All things considered, Jones’ rookie season graded out well. It’s never easy taking the reins away from a franchise quarterback and know Eli Manning is looking over your shoulder on gameday. Plus, Jones was handcuffed somewhat by the fact that his top three receivers each missed a chunk of time due to injuries last season. So, it was a challenge to find a rhythm with Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate (questionable Monday vs PIT, hamstring), and Evan Engram. When all healthy, this foursome could move the offensive needle.
Plus, the Giants feature one of the most talented running backs in the league in Saquon Barkley. Only a leaky offensive line has slowed his development into a top five running back in the league (statically speaking). Speaking of …
In their preseason preview, Pro Football Focus doesn’t believe the Giants o-line was as bad as advertised last season. With some progression, PFF’s analysts believe it could be a top-15 unit by season’s end. However, that goal is not off to a promising start when six days before the start of the season, coach Judge won’t announce who the starting center will be?
This defense remains a work in progress, but not even the signing of cornerback James Bradberry will fix the issues in the secondary overnight. New York’s pass defenses ranked in the bottom five of the league last year and allowed nearly two touchdown passes per game. Now, what do you think Roethlisberger is going to test with his surgically repaired throwing elbow this Monday night?
Betting Pick: Steelers -6
Oh, good, I’m backing another heavy road favorite. However, my confidence in this pick has more to do with my lofty expectations of the Steelers’ defense than Big Ben’s return and belief in the offense. Pittsburgh’s pass rush will keep Daniel Jones on edge as he breaks in Jason Garrett’s offense. Should Roethlisberger’s arm return to form Week 1, he should carve up the Giants’ secondary, which only solidifies this ATS bet more.