Washington at Pittsburgh
Time: 4 PM (EST), FOX
Spread: PIT -7
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Pittsburgh Steelers remain a perfect 11-0. It hosts visiting Washington as 7-point favorites Monday night, in NFL action kicking off at 4 PM (EST) on FOX. The over-under is set low at 43.5 total points, in accordance with both the Steelers’ tough defense and the Washington team’s offensive futility.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have yet to lose at 11-0, and it leads the AFC North by 2.5 games over No. 2 Cleveland.
Pittsburgh possesses the No. 6 ranked scoring offense at 28.8 points per game. How it does that with a middle-of-the-pack pass offense and a poor rush offense, is somewhat confusing still. But the Steeler play a possession game and pride their offense on red-zone efficiency. Naturally, this has boded well for its undefeated record. The Steelers have a +10.9 point differential, and it held its last three opponents to 27 points combined.
The pass offense is headed by Big Ben Roethlisberger. He has 2,800 yards on 67.5 percent passing with 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Big Ben has been sacked under one time per game, a testament both to his footwork and to the staunch offensive line that has kept him protected in the pocket. Roethlisberger is not an effective rush threat, but he has certainly benefitted from the extra decision making time.
The running backs, one would expect, to be faring better. James Conner is the do-it-all offensive threat that makes Pitt go, but he also averages a humble 4.4 yards-per-carry. Conner has 645 yards on nearly twice as many attempts as the Steelers No. 2 rush threat (Benny Snell Jr), while the top-four options outside of Conner are all far even worse on per-play production.
Snell averages just 3.3 per-carry, though he does have three of the team’s 10 touchdowns, with Conner accounting for five.
Of course, Conner is also one of the team’s top passing targets: He ranks No. 6 in yardage at 145 yards, and he has caught 86 percent of his targeted looks. Chase Claypool and Dionte Johnson combine for over 100 catches and over 1,100 yards. They also have 12 of the team’s 25 receiving touchdowns, combined.
Washington has been a woeful team thus far, a team without a name, and also coincidentally, one without much of an identity on the field either. After starting the season with a win over Philadelphia, it proceeded to drop its next five games, and Washington is just 4-7 thus far, but amazingly that trails division-leading Philly by just one game. The NFC East features all teams with losing records—good times. Also, at least, the team comes in riding a two-game win streak.
Obviously, the story for Washington revolves around a three-headed quarterback, the most anticipated of which is Dwayne Haskins Jr. He leads the trio in yardage (939) and is tied with Kyle Allen with four touchdowns. But Haskins has thrown three interceptions and been sacked 4.3 times per game. The Washington team just is not really good at any area of the field, offensively or defensively. It seems to have settled on Alex Smith now, though his 81.3 passer rating shows that it was hardly much of an upgrade. Smith has five interceptions with only three touchdowns thus far.
Antonio Gibson and JD McKissic have had moderate success rushing the ball, and Gibson has five of the team’s nine rushing TDs. Haskins, Allen, and Alex Smith all have done poor jobs rushing from the pocket. It is just so hard to guess what Washington is most in need of, because one could reasonably answer “Everything.” But it starts with building an offensive line that can help create a better rush attack. Look for Washington to pick up an easy “W” as oddsmakers project at 5dimes.