Photo by Tori Richman/Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady at the AdventHealth Training Center in Tampa, Florida on Oct. 13, 2022.
The Mike Tomlin Steelers NFL teams have grown used to is not the team Tampa Bay faces Sunday afternoon when the Buccaneers visit Acrisure Stadium (yeah, I still want to call it Heinz Field, too).
The Steelers are 1-4, coming off an embarrassing loss to the Bills where they got trounced 38-3, and are missing key defensive starters in linebacker TJ Watt and possibly safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
It would take a letdown of pretty massive proportions for the far superior Bucs to take an L this weekend. The Steelers’ offense is one of the worst in football, with star running back Najee Harris having a disappointing sophomore slump, and rookie first-round quarterback Kenny Pickets dealing with an inferior offensive line and the usual struggles of a young QB.
Expect the Bucs to be playing with something to prove, too. Many have been talking about that atrocious roughing call that bailed the Bucs out
of Sunday’s closer-than-it-should-have-been contest against the Falcons.
Given, even without the penalty, it would’ve taken Marcus Mariota leading a game-winning TD drive for the Falcons to sneak out with a victory, but even so, Atlanta was never given the chance due to the NFL‘s insistence upon protecting Tom Brady at all costs.
Alas, it shouldn’t come down to the officiating in this matchup. The Steelers are too banged up and void of talent to win a game like this.
Looking around the NFC South, the Saints, Falcons and Panthers all face opponents that were either in last year’s Super Bowl or in a Championship game, so… yeah. Plus, the Panthers finally fired head coach Matt Rhule (not that it’ll make much of a difference).
Not only should the Bucs move to 4-2, the rest of this awful NFC South should fall even more behind.
It’s exciting, it’s fun, and the Bucs are in a pretty good place to start the year.