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Monday Night Preview: Can the Steelers Knock Off the Red-Hot Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buccaneers?

Will Fitzpatrick's magical season continue with a win over the slumping Steelers?

This week's edition of Monday Night Football features the Pittsburgh Steelers traveling to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Steelers enter this contest 0-1-1, and they will look to earn their first win of the season against a 2-0 Tampa team.

Last week the Steelers lost a nail biter to the Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 42-37. On the other hand, the Buccaneers surprised again, knocking off the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles 27-20.

With each team looking to make a statement, here are some key match-ups likely to influence tonight's game.

Quarterback Breakdown

At quarterback for the Bucs, Ryan Fitzpatrick has absolutely lit the world on fire through two weeks. On top of 819 passing yards and eight touchdowns, Fitzpatrick has also impressed in our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric. Among 31 quarterbacks to drop back at least 55 times, Fitzpatrick's 0.77 Passing NEP per drop back leads the NFL.

On the other side, Ben Roethlisberger has been up and down to start the year, despite recording 787 passing yards and 4 touchdowns. Among the aforementioned group, Roethlisberger's 0.14 Passing NEP per drop back ranks 12th.

With a plethora of receiving options on both teams, each quarterback should build on their early season success.

Running Back Breakdown

For Tampa, Peyton Barber earned the starting running back role after beating out second-round rookie Ronald Jones. Barber has largely flopped as Tampa's lead back, with 35 carries for a mere 91 yards. He also disappointed according to our NEP metrics. Among the 20 running backs with at least 25 carries, Barber's -0.29 Rushing NEP per carry ranks 19th.

For Pittsburgh, James Conner has filled in as the lead dog while Le'Veon Bell continues his hold out. Conner out-produced Barber to start the year, with 152 yards on 39 carries. However, his -0.19 Rushing NEP per carry ranks a lowly 17th in the NFL among the aforementioned group.

With both teams struggling on the ground to start the year, an aerial attack could be in store tonight.

Defensive Matchup

Per our power rankings, the Bucs come in with the NFL's 27th ranked defense, with the Steelers only slightly better at 24th.

The Steelers look particularly imbalanced with the 17th best run defense, but the 29th ranked pass defense.

The Bucs, on the other hand, have the 20th best run defense and 28th best pass defense.

With both defenses struggling to start the year, offensive fireworks can be expected.

Historical Comparison

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