Pittsburgh (0-0) at Washington (0-0)
When: Monday, September 12th 2016
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, MD
Time: 7:10 ET | TV: ESPN
The Washington Redskins begin their quest for back-to-back NFC East titles when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. The Redskins got hot at the end of last season winning their last four games and winning the division as the only NFC East member over .500. Kirk Cousins thrived in his first full season as the starter, becoming the first quarterback in franchise history to throw for at least 4,000 yards (4,166) and 25 touchdowns (29). His top target was tight end Jordan Reed, who enjoyed a breakout season with 87 receptions and 11 scores. Look for more passing out of the Washington offense again this season as the running game is weak. Matt Jones, who returned to practice Wednesday after missing much of the preseason with a shoulder injury, will lead the way. Cousins still has a deep-threat in DeSean Jackson, who averages 17.7 yards per catch in his career, the most in the league since 2008. The defense will need to get better as they were ranked 28th in 2015 and the addition of Pro-Bowl cornerback Josh Norman should help.
Defense was also the weakness of the Steelers last season as they were ranked 30th against the pass allowing 271.9 yards a game. The offense remains strong under the leadership of Ben Roethlisberger who had another monster season in 2015. He passed for 328.2 yards per game and 21 touchdowns despite missing four games. The biggest threat on the offensive side of the ball is WR Antonio Brown. He has 375 receptions and 31 touchdown catches in the past three years including leading the league with 136 grabs last season. Pittsburgh will be without a pair of key weapons as running back Le’Veon Bell is serving a three-game suspension and wide receiver Martavis Bryant is out for the year for violations of the league’s substance abuse policy. DeAngelo Williams proved to be an adequate replacement for Bell as the former Memphis Tiger rushed for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns last season when Bell was suspended or injured. Pittsburgh’s 41 wins on Kickoff Weekend are the most by any AFC team.
We saw a couple of shoot-outs yesterday and this should be another one tonight. The defenses are terrible, but Washington should be a little more improved with Norman, but he can’t cover everyone. Cousins has a lot of pressure on him to duplicate last year’s success. Roethlisberger never seems to be fazed by pressure or the big game. Pittsburgh wins a high-scoring affair tonight.
Pick: Steelers -3