The Pittsburgh Steelers failed to make the playoffs last year for the first time in five seasons. Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven’t been to the postseason since 2007. Both clubs aim to get back on track in 2019 and will take a step toward that goal when they meet in their exhibition opener on Friday night. Kickoff from Heinz Field is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET. The Steelers will turn to a young core to help compensate for the departure of two dazzling but polarizing superstars in wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell. The Buccaneers hired an accomplished and seasoned coach to groom their immensely talented but inconsistent quarterback. Pittsburgh is a 2.5-point favorite and the over-under for total points scored is 37 in the latest Steelers vs. Buccaneers odds. You need to hear what NFL expert R.J. White has to say before you make any Buccaneers vs. Steelers picks or any other 2019 NFL preseason predictions of your own.

White has been SportsLine’s top pro football analyst for two-plus seasons. Over that span, the CBS Sports NFL editor and nationally recognized NFL Draft expert has gone 214-164 on NFL picks against the spread, returning more than $3,200 to $100 bettors.

White was all over the Patriots in the 2019 Super Bowl, nailing the year’s biggest sporting event for the legions that follow him. White said he wouldn’t trust Rams QB Jared Goff in a big spot, and Goff’s bumbling performance was key to New England’s 13-3 win.

The stats guru, whose picks are coveted by fans everywhere, has cashed huge in the world’s most prestigious handicapping tournament, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest, twice in the past four years. What’s more, White has a combined record of 36-12 (75 percent) on picks involving Tampa Bay or Pittsburgh over the past three seasons. Anyone who has followed him is way up. Now, White has broken down Steelers vs. Bucs from every angle and revealed his strong against-the-spread pick over at SportsLine. 

White knows Pittsburgh supporters are eager to see the NFL debuts of two rookies whose training camp performances have drawn rave reviews. First-round pick Devin Bush is a hard-hitting linebacker from Michigan. Bush already has received praise from the coaching staff for his football instincts, and his crushing hits have drawn the awe of onlookers at practice.

Another rookie to watch is receiver Diontae Johnson, a third-round pick from Toledo. He has been lauded for his rapid comprehension of the offense and maturity. He is expected to compete for a key role in the receiving corps alongside second year pro James Washington and veterans Donte Moncrief and Eli Rogers. Amid the departure of Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster is expected to emerge as the top receiving target.

Even so, Pittsburgh isn’t assured of covering the Steelers vs. Bucs spread against a Tampa Bay club that similarly hopes to enter a new campaign on a positive note.

The club hired Arians after it parted ways with Dirk Koetter, who was hired in large part to groom and develop quarterback Jameis Winston. The quarterback has shown flashes of progress but also has been plagued by inconsistency. Arians was the architect of an Arizona offense that often ranked toward the top of the NFL in total yardage and points scored. He recently told the media that he has “seen a light go on” for Winston now that the coach and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich have worked extensively with the signal-caller in practice.

The first-year coach also has emphasized the need to improve a running game that ranked No. 29 in the NFL last year. Look for plenty of action from Peyton Barber, who had 871 rushing yards and five scores last year. Ronald Jones looks to bounce back from a disappointing, injury-plagued rookie year in which he gained just 44 yards.

We can tell you White is leaning toward the over, but he’s also identified a critical factor that’s made him jump all over one side of the spread. He’s only sharing that pick over at SportsLine.

Who wins Buccaneers vs. Steelers? And what critical factor makes one side of the spread a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Bucs vs. Steelers spread you should jump on Friday, all from the top NFL expert who’s brought in more than $3,200 the last two seasons, and find out.