clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

‘Monday Night Football’ doubleheader picks and open thread: Saints at Panthers, Browns at Steelers

The annual MNF double-header is back!

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The annual Monday Night Football doubleheader is here, and we are going to get a couple exciting divisional games to look forward to. Exciting may be relative here, as neither of the games are predicted to light up the scoreboards. However, facing off against a divisional rival tends to bring out the unexpected; so I expect low-scoring games that feature a high level of intensity. Ultimately, we are seeing two 1-0 road teams getting set to face two 0-1 home teams... the inclination would be to roll with the hot teams here, but is that really the best call? Read on and find out!

Saints @ Panthers — 4:15pm — ESPN — O/U 39.5

The New Orleans Saints are 1-0 after squeaking out a 1-point victory over the Tennessee Titans in Week 1. The Carolina Panthers, meanwhile, struggled under new quarterback Bryce Young and fell at home to the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 24-10. The Saints are the away team, but they are still favored by 3.5-points, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.

Now, that loss to the Falcons looked bad on paper, but Atlanta is currently 2-0 under Desmond Ridder, and Bijan Robinson is looking every bit the part of the game-changing back they expected when they drafted him. Worthy of note, though, the Panthers did a better job containing him than the Packers did, as the proprietor of Bijan Mustardson (order a bottle here) only totaled a little north of 80 total yards of offense in Week 1. Compare that to his 172 yards of total offense on Sunday, and this gives me hope for the Carolina defense.

The Saints offense looked... sketchy under new quarterback Derek Carr. Their defense, however, looked fearsome and forced three Ryan Tannehill interceptions. Bryce Young will need to protect the ball and can’t commit multiple turnovers again. This reads to me like it is going to be a slow, defensive oriented game, but I think the Panthers come out on top.

The pick: Under 39.5 points, Carolina covers the spread and wins

Browns @ Steelers — 5:15pm — ABC/ESPN+ — O/U 38.5

In yet another charged division clash, the 0-1 Pittsburgh Steelers will host the 1-0 Cleveland Browns. The Browns shocked the football world in Week 1 with their dismantling of the heavily-favored Cincinnati Bengals, and they are going to look to keep this up against a Steel curtain that just rusted and crumbled against the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 30-7. Unsurprisingly, this seems to be reason enough for the Browns to be favored, however the spread is very thin: DraftKings Sportsbook has it listed at 2-points right now in favor of Cleveland.

To be fair, we simply don’t know what to expect from Kenny Pickett and the Steelers in year two. They fell in the hole early and never climbed out of it against the Niners; Pickett posting 40+ passing attempts is not a recipe for success at this point in his career. So you might be wondering, then, why I am about to pick the Steelers to win this game (assuming you already assumed that, despite all of the evidence I presented to the contrary); the reason is simple. They are the home team.

The Steelers haven’t lost a regular season game to the Browns in Pittsburgh in 20 years, according to StatHead. The last time Cleveland pulled it off? October 5th, 2003, in a game that saw two former first-round picks going toe-to-toe... the immortal Tim Couch and the sterling Tommy Maddox, no less! Before this, the Browns also picked up a win in 1999, but besides that, they have gone 2-28 when facing the Steelers at home. You know who has their own streak going? The Browns. They have beat the Bengals in Cleveland in their last six meetings at Browns Stadium; the moral? Divisional match ups don’t always reflect who is the better team, and sometimes the coaching ends up being the difference. I think Mike Tomlin takes this one.

Sure, streaks are meant to be broken. But the Bengals are 0-2 and that Week 1 win looks a bit less impressive. Meanwhile, the 49ers are 2-0 and put up 30 points in each of their last two games — both road wins. Something tells me that both these teams are leaving at 1-1.

The pick: Under 38.5 points, Steelers cover and win straight up