It might be the last ride. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been a pretty competitive team with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback. But in recent years, Big Ben’s performance has suffered. Some wondered if Roethlisberger would even return this season.
But the Steelers and their long-time quarterback reached a compromise this offseason to reduce Roethlisberger’s cap number and keep their captain around.
It might very well be his last season. And yet, NFL oddsmakers seem to think Big Ben might be too far past his prime to carry the team very far. Even with the NFL adding another game this season, most PA online sports betting apps have the Steelers win total set at 8.5.
Exactly average. Or mediocre. And that’s exactly what makes the futures bet so tantalizing. Because it’s pretty easy to conjure up a rational scenario for either side of the bet.
Why the Steelers could get to nine wins
The case for the over goes back to the beginning of last year. The Steelers started 11-0 before injuries, particularly on defense, led to some late-season stumbles and an early exit in the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs.
But with the defense healthy and most of the team’s core returning, it’s certainly possible that the Steelers could get to nine wins. Especially considering that the NFL is adding another game, making 17 total regular season games.
“We look at the percentage chance that a team wins that extra game. Let’s say that the Chiefs have a 58% chance to beat the Packers. We would add .58 of a win to the Kansas City win total. [FOX Bet would round .58 down to .5 wins for betting purposes.] So if the Chiefs’ total is 12.5, we would bump them up to 13.”
And why Pittsburgh might finish under its total
But if you’re expecting the Steelers to finish under their mark, even with another game on the schedule, it’s likely you’re focusing on a few holes in the roster.
Pittsburgh lost defensive end Bud Dupree in free agency. Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey retired. And running back James Conner, a former Pitt Panther, signed with Arizona as well.
So Pittsburgh has some work to do in the NFL Draft, which starts with the first round next Thursday night (April 29) at 8 p.m.
And Pennsylvania doesn’t allow wagering on the draft, but there are plenty of odds listed in other states, including at New Jersey sportsbooks. Wagers are available on the first picks of the draft, draft positions of certain players and what position each team will select first.
Steelers to address needs, fill gaps in 2021 NFL Draft
According to BetMGM Sportsbook, the odds for the position of the Steelers’ first drafted player are as follows:
- Offensive lineman: +180
- Running back: +200
- Cornerback: +400
- Linebacker: +1000
- Defensive lineman: +1600
- Quarterback: +1800
- Wide receiver: +2000
- Safety: +2500
- Tight end: +2500
In the first round, the Steelers pick at No. 24. Of course, trades are always possible in the NFL Draft, but if the Steelers stay at their spot, a frequent match in mock drafts is Alabama running back Najee Harris. ESPN’s Mel Kiper even sent Harris to the Steelers in his latest version. And counterpart Todd McShay listed running back first in his report on Pittsburgh’s team needs.
So a running back is likely to be selected by the Steelers at some point. The same goes for an offensive lineman and perhaps even a quarterback considering Roethlisberger’s status. For more on NFL Draft odds, see this preview from TheLines.
The Steelers 2021 season promises to be an interesting one
For many football fans, the NFL Draft signals the start of a new season. And for Pittsburgh, it’s a season filled with equal parts intrigue and uncertainty.
What will the future hold? Who will the team draft?
And which new players will join Big Ben in what figures to be his last ride?
Lead image credit: AP Photo/Keith Srakocic