Monday Night Football Preview & Player Props: Steelers at Giants

Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants
Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants (photo credit: USA TODAY Sports)

The first Monday Night Football game of the NFL season sees the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the New York Giants. It’s the return of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and he’ll go up against a young Giants team led by Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. In this article, we’ll break down the matchup from an NFL betting perspective and provide a few free picks for the game.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-6) at New York Giants

Monday, September 14, 2020, at 7:15 p.m. ET
MetLife Stadium
Meadowlands, New Jersey

It has become a tradition in recent years to cap off the opening week of the NFL season with a Monday Night doubleheader. The first game this year is a cross-conference showdown, as Ben Roethlisberger makes his long-awaited return for the Steelers, who take on Daniel Jones and the New York Giants. While much of the focus will be on “Big Ben,” it is both defenses that will likely be the deciding factors in this game.

Huge Gap in Quality for the Defenses

It’s not very often that you get a matchup with arguably the best and worst defensive units in the league, but you could certainly make that case here. The Pittsburgh defense is absolutely stacked with playmakers on all of the levels, and they were the main reason why Pittsburgh managed to stay in the playoff race. This was, of course, in spite of the fact that they were trotting out Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges at quarterback. Cameron Heyward and TJ Watt should get plenty of pressure from the outside, which could set up the secondary to make some big plays against a mistake-prone quarterback.

On the flip side, a well-rested Roethlisberger should have no problem carving up what looks like a porous Giants defense.

To make free player prop picks, check out the SharpSide sports betting app, available now for iOS and Android.

How Will the Steelers Offense Look?

Despite the lack of playmakers on this Giants defense, it is not a given that a 38-year-old quarterback coming off of a major elbow injury will simply slot back in firing on all cylinders. It will likely take a few games for Roethlisberger to get back up to game speed again, especially with the lack of preseason play this year. However, he really couldn’t have asked for much more of a softer landing spot than this particular matchup.

In addition, it will be very interesting to see how JuJu Smith-Schuster looks after a disappointing 2019 season. Slated to take over the #1 role after the departure of Antonio Brown, Smith-Schuster never quite got off the ground last year, hampered in large part by the terrible quarterback play already mentioned. More on this later.

Points Spread Pick: Steelers (-6)

Normally, a home dog getting nearly a touchdown in primetime opening Monday night would be a slam dunk spot for the sharp bettors. However, this season is completely different without the fans, and that is taken into account with this rather inflated line. For us, this simply comes down to the dominating defense of the Steelers, and the likely to be bottom-five unit for the Giants. If Pittsburgh can get to 24 points, that will likely be enough to cover this spread, so go with a healthy, veteran squad in Pittsburgh here.

JuJu Smith-Schuster Player Prop: Over 66.5 receiving yards

Ok, back to Smith-Schuster. This is a smash spot for the young star to show on the national stage that he truly is ready for the top spot in the receiving core. Smith-Schuster is in a contract year, and if he wants to earn a big payday the likes of Adam Thielen and Keenan Allen, he will have to show that he can run circles around this subpar Giants secondary. Mike Tomlin also seems like the kind of coach who will call a long pass play early on to test Roethlisberger’s arm, so it’s possible a big early play eats a chunk out of this total.

Ben Roethlisberger Player Prop: Under 277.5 passing yards

On paper, these two bets would seem to contradict themselves, but hear us out. Sure, Tomlin could tell Roethlisberger to run wild, and let him sling the rock up and down the field all night long. However, in the range of outcomes here, a comfortable Steelers win seems to be the most likely finish. If that game script comes to fruition, the Steelers will likely rely on James Connor and the running game to salt the game away and hope to not overwork Roethlisberger’s recently repaired arm. Look for the under here.

To make free player prop picks, check out the SharpSide sports betting app, available now for iOS and Android.

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