After leading the Pittsburgh Steelers offense to five touchdowns on five preseason drives, Kenny Pickett fell flat on his face in the season opener against an elite San Francisco 49ers defense.
The second-year first-round pick didn’t lead the Steelers to a scoring drive until just before half in the opener, and it was the only points the black and gold put up all day in what would be a 30-7 shellacking by the 49ers.
It’s a tumultuous time in Pittsburgh with fans calling for offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s job and Pickett’s struggles leading to the murmurs of the word “bust.” Even fellow second-year budding star George Pickens was spotted looking unhappy on the bench last week.
Week 2 odds feature a rare two-game slate on Monday night, delivering bettors double the fun. You can see how I’m betting on the Pittsburgh QB as I dive into tonight's MNF odds in my free NFL picks below.
Kenny Pickett MNF prop picks
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.
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Kenny Pickett MNF prop pick
Pickett 35+ passing attempts (+225)
While Kenny Pickett struggled in the loss to the 49ers last week, the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t shy away from throwing the football all over the field. After falling behind early, the Steelers all but abandoned the run. Canada ended up calling 46 passes in the loss with just nine carries for his running back tandem of Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren.
This isn’t an uncommon move for Pittsburgh with how its offensive line played last year, and once again the big boys up front confirmed their inability to create any push against San Francisco. In his 13 starts as QB with Canada as his playcaller, Pickett has thrown at least 38 passes six times.
With the Cleveland Browns coming to town, the Steelers could find themselves in another hole against a team that wiped the floor with the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1. New Browns defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz seems to have instantly juiced up that side of the ball in Cleveland with Joe Burrow being held to just 82 passing yards in an ugly weather game.
In Week 1, Cleveland finished second in the NFL on defense in EPA per play and EPA per dropback. But, that won’t deter the Steelers from throwing the ball with their young passer. Pickett has only thrown less than 27 passes in two starts in his career (one of which he got injured in and threw just one pass).
The improved Browns front seven should be able to bully Pittsburgh's subpar offensive line and slow the running game enough for Canada to back off trying to go to the ground game.
In 2021 — Canada’s first year as the Steelers' offensive coordinator — he had an established QB in Ben Roethlisberger, who despite his immobility and fall off in play, averaged 37.8 pass attempts in 16 starts.
Last season, with a rookie in Pickett and a bust in Mitchell Trubisky, the duo averaged 33.5 pass attempts per game. Now, with Pickett in his second season and the theoretical franchise passer in Pittsburgh, Canada’s playcalling will trend back towards what it was with Big Ben.
And with Pickens, Allen Robinson, Calvin Austin, and Pat Freiermuth, Pickett isn’t short on playmakers — even with Diontae Johnson out against Cleveland.
The total pass attempts number for Pickett is set at 30.5 at most books, and the Over is just -120. However, at books that offer passing attempt milestones, the odds are a lot sweeter.
In his career, any time Pickett has thrown Over 30 passes, he’s ended up with at least 38 in total. He’s actually never hit Over 30.5 pass attempts in a game without hitting more than 35. So let’s go all in on him throwing plenty of passes.
Prop: Kenny Pickett 35+ pass attempts (+225 at bet365)
Kenny Pickett MNF same-game parlay
If Pickett is throwing the rock all over Acrisure Stadium, he’ll be racking up the yards.
For him to throw 35 passes in a game and not top 204.5 yards, he’d have to average below six yards per attempt, a number few starting-caliber QBs end up under in a game.
While he did end up Under it last week, he still cleared 230 yards through the air because when the Steelers' offense struggles, Canada can’t help but throw it constantly. So even if we find Pickett under that six-yards per attempt number again, recent history shows that it won’t stop Pittsburgh from calling pass plays.
As a rookie, Pickett averaged 6.2 per attempt and in four of the five games that he threw at least 35 passes, he cleared the 204.5 yards mark.
Going back to Canada’s first season in Pittsburgh when he had an established starter, like he theoretically does now, Big Ben only threw for fewer than 204.5 yards four times in 16 starts. In those four games, he threw less than 35 passes twice. Expect Canada to be pass happy and Pickett to throw for at least 205 yards regardless of the outcome of the game.
Not intended for use in MA.
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