After an eventful Week 1 NFL Sunday, we have not one but two Monday Night Football games to look forward to this evening.
Our handicappers Drew Disnick and Matt Youmans give their best bets on the games:
Pittsburgh Steelers (-6, 47.5) at New York Giants
Youmans: Ben Roethlisberger’s return from elbow surgery will provide a significant boost for the Steelers, who went 8-8 last year with poor quarterback play. Pittsburgh was in the playoff hunt in December only because it ranked fifth in scoring defense (18.9 points per game). The Steelers should win at least 10 games this year, including this one, but the number is now inflated.
When Week 1 lines opened in May, the Steelers were 3.5-point favorites. The line move to six probably has a lot to do with positive reports about Roethlisberger’s arm strength. Bettors are also fading the Giants, who have a first-year coach, Joe Judge, and some of the same-old problems. The defense was a disaster last year, ranking 30th in scoring (28.2 PPG) and there is talent lacking on the back end.
The Giants could be intriguing offensively with running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones leading the way. If the line is improved -- and first-round pick Andrew Thomas is a big help -- Barkley and Jones are capable of moving the ball. The Steelers are 1-6-1 ATS in their past eight games as road favorites, and there’s a chance Roethlisberger will be rusty after about a year off.
Pick: Giants 6
Dinsick: Big Ben is back after a year of recovery and takes the reins of a team that was strong in every aspect of the game except quarterback in 2019. If he is healthy, it is reasonable to expect Pittsburgh to challenge the top of the AFC but that is a relatively big “if” considering his age and the severity of his injury. The defense for the Steelers is as strong as ever, even though some regression is expected, particularly as it relates to repeating their impressive turnover production (Pittsburgh lead the league with 38 takeaways). The regression there may have to wait, however, as the Steel Curtain faces a young, fumble-prone, QB in Daniel Jones who will be protected by an inexperienced offensive line and will not be helped by a completely overmatched defense.
This game looks likely to be a wake-up call for Giants fans who think they have a chance to compete this year beyond the likes of Saquon Barkley competing for a rushing title. I liked the Steelers at the opening price of -3.5 but as it has drifted to -6 the value is mostly gone, so I’ll be sitting this one out.
Tennessee Titans (-3, 41) at Denver Broncos
Dinsick: Tennessee comes into the 2020 season largely intact and mostly overlooked as far as contending for either and AFC South or AFC title despite making it to the championship game a season ago. If Ryan Tannehill can extend his performance over a full season, he will have earned his generous offseason contract and likely be among the top 10 QBs in football.
The Titans opened this game as underdogs, notably due to the challenges of playing at altitude early in the season before players have achieved game-level conditioning. Denver will look to build on the late-season success of its young QB Drew Lock, although this Titans defense will be his most difficult test to date. To make matters even harder the Broncos, they will be without their defensive leader Von Miller who suffered a season ending injury in camp; breakout WR Courtland Sutton and DE Bradley Chubb may also be unavailable in this contest.
The steam on the Titans is completely warranted in my opinion, but laying three in these conditions requires a very favorable view of Tennessee’s strength. I’ll pass on this pre-game and will look for opportunities to back the Broncos in the second half if the situation presents, as the altitude effects set in for Tennessee.