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Spend your lunch money on fading the Steelers, Titans and Falcons

Mitchell Trubisky

Mitchell Trubisky

Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

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Pittsburgh Steelers Lowest Scoring Team in NFL (+1200)

The Steelers are in a transition as a team moving away from Ben Roethlisberger and Heinz Field, which is now Acrisure Stadium, but remain in a challenging AFC North Division with three other quality teams capable of making the playoffs.

The Steelers have played without Big Ben over the years in this division and same stadium, but this year will be different and a new era of Steelers football.

Mitchell Trubisky, the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, will likely be the starting quarterback for the Steelers. While Pittsburgh drafted the hometown Pittsburgh-product Kenny Pickett in the first round, the job should be Trubisky’s.

I went to Steelers camp and honestly, Mason Rudolph is not out of the question either as he looked the best out of the three (it was one day, so I won’t hold it against Pickett or Trubisky). However, there are more issues outside of the quarterback situation.

Pittsburgh continues to have a veteran coaching staff but I don’t anticipate that to be enough as the offensive line, receivers and defensive backs will be the downfall of this team. The Steelers 2021 offensive line was the worst line of the Big Ben era and in 2022 they won’t be much better, if at all. Yes, the offensive line has another year under their belt, but at least three of the starters are better fitted as reserves.

Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and Pat Freiermuth all seem like ideal fantasy options but this will be an adjustment for all of them. Teams will key on Harris and Freiermuth, last season’s first two draft picks. Harris is a do-it-all player, but he and Freiermuth will likely be safety valves for Trubisky/Pickett/Rudolph.

For the receivers, opponents will attempt to rattle Claypool, who showed immaturity and inconsistency last season but is a big-time playmaker when locked in. Johnson hasn’t missed many games in his career, but he does come off the field more than the average player and his health is never 100 percent when he plays. Plus, Johnson and the Steelers are nowhere close on contract negotiations.

Pittsburgh drafted WR George Pickens this offseason and he seems like somebody worth investing in and likely the reason why Johnson wants far more than the Steelers are willing to offer. However, with a bottom-five quarterback and offensive line, the running backs and receivers will starve at times.

I expect the Steelers average of 20.2 points per game in 2021 to decline and with their defense still being a top-16 to 10 unit, Pittsburgh will be in a lot of games, but likely be the losers of those contests.

I do not expect tons of blowouts or garbage time touchdowns from the Steelers, so let’s take a 0.5 unit at +1200 on Pittsburgh to be the lowest-scoring team in the NFL.

Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers to be the lowest scoring team (0.25u)

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Tennessee Titans Lowest Scoring Team in the NFL (+2800)

The Titans will run it back with Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry for a fourth-straight season. The duo has found so much success in their three years together, but I am afraid that is coming to an end.

I am not saying Malik Willis is going to take Tannehill’s spot, but what I will say is outside of Tannehill, Henry and one receiver, the Titans offensive weapons are below average.

Tannehill was 30th in deep pass completion percentage (27.3%) and recorded the third-most pressured throws (130), while Henry saw his explosive play percentage take an 8% dip from 2020 to 2021.

The offense features WR1 Robert Woods, rookie WR Treylon Burks, WR Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and TE Austin Hooper. The offensive line remains led by LT Taylor Lewan, but other than that, there is work to be done on the front five. After losing A.J. Brown, Julio Jones and Jeremy McNichols this offseason, the Tennessee offense took a serious hit.

I respect and like Tannehill, Henry and Woods, but the trio will not be enough even in a lackluster AFC South Division. Over the last two seasons, the Titans have ranked 31st in early down pass rate and remain the most run-heavy team in the NFL.

Last year, the Titans had similar rushing success with and without Henry, which could be looked at as a positive or negative since Henry is now 28 years old and entering the declining stage of most running backs’ careers.

However, the running back depth is one of the worst in the league (and I am being polite). The Titans have Dontrell Hilliard, Hassan Haskins and Trenton Cannon backing up Henry. Last season, McNichols was the guy, but he is now a reserve for the Steelers.

I don’t see Tannehill taking this team above the 24.2 points per game they scored last season (14th). In 2020, the Titans averaged 29.6 points per game (4th). That 5.4 points per game difference was evident in 2021 and I expect another significant drop in 2022 for a few reasons.

The Titans scored a touchdown 62% of the time they reached the red zone in 2021, which will be tough to repeat, especially since they were one of the lowest play-action passing teams.

Looking over the Titans schedule, there are about 10-12 possible playoff teams out of the 17 regular-season games. Lastly and overall, with a bottom-five offensive line and bottom-five receiving core, I expect the Titans to have a down year offensively compared to the past few seasons.

Last year, 10 teams scored fewer than 20 points per game and four at 18 points or less -- I expect the Titans to be in those categories this year.

Pick: Tennessee Titans to be the lowest scoring team (0.25u)

Atlanta Falcons Lowest Scoring Team in the NFL (+400)

Pick: Atlanta Falcons to be the lowest scoring team (0.25u)

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