Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) throws a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. The Bills won 38-3. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) throws a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. The Bills won 38-3. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
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Sunday 1 p.m. EDT, CBS.

OPENING LINE: Buccaneers by 8 1/2, according to FanDuel SportsBook.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Buccaneers 2-3; Pittsburgh 1-3-1.

SERIES RECORD: Steelers lead 9-2.

LAST MEETING: Steelers beat Buccaneers 30-27 on Sept. 24, 2018, in Tampa.

LAST WEEK: Buccaneers beat Falcons 21-15; Steelers lost to Bills 38-3.





TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Buccaneers plus-3; Steelers plus-1.

BUCCANEERS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Tom Brady is 12-3 all time vs. the Steelers, including postseason. He's thrown for 34 touchdowns against them, while averaging 296.7 yards passing per game. Since getting off to a slow start this season, the seven-time Super Bowl champion has thrown for a combined 736 yards and four touchdowns without an interception the past two weeks.

STEELERS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR George Pickens. The rookie second-round pick has been one of the few bright spots during Pittsburgh's woeful start and has quickly developed a rapport with rookie QB Kenny Pickett. Pickens has six catches in each of the past two games. The one thing he doesn't have? A touchdown. Then again, neither do any of the other Steelers wide receivers.

KEY MATCHUP: Brady vs. Pittsburgh's secondary. The Steelers are beat up on the back end and will likely be missing two and as many as four of their top six defensive backs. That's not a great recipe for finding a way to slow down Brady, who leads the NFL in completions (141) and has thrown for seven touchdowns against one interception five games into his 23rd season.

KEY INJURIES: Bucs TE Cameron Brate (concussion) and WRs Julio Jones (knee) and Breshad Perriman (hamstring, knee) did not play last week. They, along with CBs Carlton Davis (hip) and Sean Murphy-Bunting (quad), could be game-day decisions. ... Steelers LB T.J. Watt will miss his fifth straight game because of a torn left pectoral muscle. CB Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring), CB Cam Sutton (hamstring), CB Levi Wallace (concussion) and S Minkah Fitzpatrick (knee) are all hurting, with Witherspoon and Sutton likely out. ... DT Larry Ogunjobi (back), DT Montravius Adams (hip), C Mason Cole (foot) and TE Zach Gentry (knee) are also ailing. S Terrell Edmunds, who missed last week's game with a concussion, could return to the lineup.

SERIES NOTES: The Steelers have won five of the past six meetings and are 4-1 all time against Tampa Bay in Pittsburgh. It's a telling stat about Brady's longevity that he's faced the Steelers more times (15) than Tampa Bay has (11) since joining the NFL in 1976. ... With Watt out, the Steelers have just two starters (DT Cam Heyward, Edmunds) remaining from the group that beat Tampa Bay 30-27 in Tampa in 2018. ... The Bucs' only win in Pittsburgh came in their most recent trip to Acrisure Stadium (formerly Heinz Field), a 27-24 upset in 2014, one of only two victories that season by Tampa Bay that season.

STATS AND STUFF: Brady leads the NFL in passing yards (11,358) and is second in TD passes (90) since joining the Bucs in 2020. ... RB Leonard Fournette had a career-best 10 receptions, a season-high 139 yards from scrimmage (83 rushing, 56 rushing) and scored a touchdown rushing and receiving against Atlanta last week. ... Since Bucs coach Todd Bowles was hired as defensive coordinator in 2019, Tampa Bay has the third-most sacks (161) in the NFL behind the Steelers (175) and Los Angeles Rams (163). The team has 19 spread among 11 players through five games this season. ... Pittsburgh is riding a four-game losing streak and is hoping to avoid the franchise's first 1-5 start since 1988. ... The franchise hasn't dropped five straight games since 2009, the year after winning its sixth Super Bowl. ... Pittsburgh's defense has struggled without Watt, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The Steelers had seven sacks and five turnovers in a Week 1 win in Cincinnati with Watt in the lineup. They have created five turnovers and three sacks combined in the past four weeks with Watt on the sideline in sweatpants. The Steelers are 0-8 with Watt out since he entered the league in 2017, including 0-4 this season. ... Pittsburgh may give rookie RB Jaylen Warren a heavier workload with starter Najee Harris struggling. Harris is averaging 3.2 yards per carry for the league's 29th-ranked rushing offense while Warren is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. ... Pickett's 327 yards passing against Buffalo were a franchise record for a QB in his first start with the team. ... The 20th overall pick in the 2022 draft is still waiting for his first touchdown pass. He's already thrown four interceptions in six quarters. ... The difference in career starts between Brady (321) and Pickett (1) is the largest between two quarterbacks in NFL history.

FANTASY TIP: Considering Brady's track record against far better versions of the Steelers and Pittsburgh's injuries in the secondary, Tampa Bay's so-so offensive start figures to get a significant boost. Give WR Mike Evans (20 receptions, three TDs) a look against a defense that gave up 432 yards passing last week against Buffalo.


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