- Win Over/Under: 10.5 (+110/-130)
- Make AFC Playoffs: -400 (80%)
- Win AFC North: -220 (69%)
- Win AFC Championship: +500 (17%)
- Win Super Bowl: +1000 (9%)
The Action Network’s Projected Wins: 10.41 (6th)
One way or another, the Steelers’ fate always ends up tied to the Patriots.
This season is no different: New England is the only team with better Super Bowl or AFC Championship odds than Pittsburgh, and the teams’ Week 15 matchup could decide home-field advantage as well as whether Pittsburgh exceeds its Vegas win over/under.
In fact, you could argue the Steelers are the Bizarro version of the Pats:
- Whereas the Pats have the stoic, older coach who rocks the disheveled, ripped-hoodie look, the Steelers have the intense, younger coach who’s always good for a crisp shapeup.
- Whereas the Pats rotate a seemingly endless supply of discount, above-average running backs, the Steelers pay franchise-tag money for an elite back they run into the ground.
- Whereas the clean-cut Brady has gotten better and more into fitness as he’s aged, the scruffy Roughlisberger … well, you get the point.
But if you’re a bettor, the Steelers and Patriots have one important similarity: Despite the natural regression the NFL’s best teams must contend with, betting the over on their win totals has been money in the bank.
Under Mike Tomlin, the Steelers are 8-3 vs. their win-total over, including a perfect 4-0 streak since 2014, during which time they’ve won three division titles.
It doesn’t look like that streak will end in 2018.
Despite losing Ryan Shazier, the Steelers defense still led the league in sacks last season and finished ninth in Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average. Now it returns the premier pass-rushing duo of Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, versatile cogs such as T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, slot corner Mike Hilton and rejuvenated boundary corner Joe Haden.
The offense features the Big 3 — Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown — plus breakout star JuJu Smith-Schuster, preseason dominator James Washington and an offensive line that Pro Football Focus ranks No. 4 heading into 2018.
The Steelers even let go of offensive coordinator Todd Haley, so maybe they won’t throw 57 times against the Jaguars’ No. 1 pass defense when the teams meet again this season.
Once the season gets going, however, betting on the Steelers becomes an adventure.
According to BetLabs, Tomlin is an un-Belichickian 88-85-3 (.508) against the spread in the regular season — mostly because the Steelers have made throwing a slumber party on the road against a few clearly inferior opponents an annual tradition.
Tomlin’s teams have covered in 52.9% of home games but only 49.4% of road games. The split widens to 53.2% and 47.4% when looking only at games Roethlisberger starts, which is not surprising considering that Big Ben’s drop-off on the road vs. at home is roughly the equivalent of going from Terry Bradshaw to Carrie Bradshaw at quarterback.
Despite winning an average of 10.4 games over the past seven seasons, the Steelers have only one AFC Championship Game appearance to show for it. So I’m not too interested in the team’s Super Bowl or AFC Championship odds considering the payouts.
The Steelers are favored vs. New England and at Jacksonville even though they have failed to beat the Patriots since 2011 and lost to the Jaguars twice last season. Even if we pencil in losses for those games as well as at New Orleans, the Steelers would still have room for two of their patented meltdowns on the road without jeopardizing their win total.
And as long as their implied odds to win the division are lower than 75%, I’d take that bet as well. – Chris Raybon
Raybon’s Bets: Over 10.5 Wins, Win AFC North (up to -290)
A Case for the Steelers to Win the Super Bowl
The Steelers are the only team I see as a legitimate threat to the Patriots in the AFC. They have talent all over the field and the experience to get the job done. After overlooking the Jaguars in the playoffs, the Steelers will be highly focused and motivated as they look to erase the bad taste in their mouths from a nightmare finish to an otherwise excellent season in 2017.
Trading Martavis Bryant to Oakland could also prove to be addition by subtraction as it removes a potential distraction, considering the wide receiver wasn’t exactly shy about voicing his displeasure with his status in Pittsburgh. – BlackJack Fletcher
BlackJack’s Bet: Steelers to Win the Super Bowl
Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 Schedule
- Games Favored: 13
- Avg. Spread: -4.1
- Strength of Schedule: 2nd (1 = Easiest, 32 = Hardest)
Survivor Pool 101
- Use the Steelers: Week 1 @ CLE, Week 8 vs. CLE
- Use Steelers’ opponents: Not recommended
Fantasy Football Outlook
- Top Picks: RB Le’Veon Bell, WR Antonio Brown
- Sleeper: QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR James Washington
Best of “I’ll Take That Bet” on ESPN+
“We have the Steelers at -220 to win the division, and they’ve got the most betting support, but they’ve had minimal action on their win total and Super Bowl odds.”
– Westgate bookmaker Jeff Sherman to The Action Network’s Michael Leboff
Ben Roethlisberger Over/Under 16.5 Interceptions? (-125/-105)
Big Ben isn’t the most careful quarterback with the football — see Week 5 of the 2017 season at Jacksonville — but he hasn’t actually thrown more than 16 interceptions since … 2006. The juice on the over is offset by the fact that he routinely rests in Week 17 and has missed between one and four games every year since 2009.
Sean Koerner projects Big Ben to throw 14.6 picks. I’ve seen books remove some silly interception props from the board, so act quickly if you’re in agreement here. – Chris Raybon
The Bet: Under 16.5 Interceptions
Fade Antonio Brown on the Road in DFS
Roethlisberger’s infamously volatile home/away splits have rubbed off on the league’s No. 1 receiver.
According to the FantasyLabs NFL Trends tool, Brown has averaged only 15.7 DraftKings points per game with a -0.4 Plus/Minus on the road since 2014 compared to 22.7 points with a +6.9 Plus/Minus at home.
Surprisingly, Brown has garnered similar ownership splits at home and on the road over that stretch, indicating that the public hasn’t properly faded him away from Pittsburgh. – Ian Hartitz