The Pittsburgh Steelers sit at an 8.5-game Over/Under projection, per the BetOnline Sportsbook as of May 17th, 2021. The Steelers would have easily encroached on this in 2020. But this season, they’re projected to be a weaker team than in years past, despite their historic 11-0 start just one season ago.
However, the Steelers return their 2 kingpins that have fueled their most successful run in team history: Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin. And you must think that if Roethlisberger and Tomlin keep returning for more fun, the future Hall of Fame duo will always threaten any Over/Under.
So, the lower the better, right?
We’ll find out. Today’s post covers the state of the Steelers’ roster, their strengths, weaknesses, schedule, and whether they’re a good bet for the Over, or a better bet for the Under.
Ready to discover more about an annual favorite in the betting realm?
State of the Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers enter 2021 projected by many to finish lower in the division than the Cleveland Browns. Look, this hasn’t happened in my lifetime, so if you’re in the same boat, it will sound beyond skeptical. But here we are in 2021, where nothing seems normal anymore.
So it only makes sense for the Steelers to enter the season as underdogs to Cleveland and Baltimore. However, neither the Browns nor Ravens have the Steelers’ track record. Since 2007, the Steelers have had one coach and one starting quarterback.
The Ravens have had just 2 coaches, but also 2 starting quarterbacks. As for the Browns, they’ve had about 10 coaches and 25 different starting quarterbacks in that same time span. So history sides with the Steelers here, especially since Ben and Mike have in the past won when no one else thought they would.
Including a Super Bowl, so if you’re doubting the Steelers can encroach an 8.5-game Over/Under, you’re doubting the wrong team. However, all great things must also end, and it’s highly likely that Pittsburgh’s run as one of the NFL’s elite teams is ending. At least for a short time.
The Steelers kept Roethlisberger and as a bonus, they re-signed Juju Smith-Schuster. However, they had an unspectacular free agency period where they lost a few stars on the offensive line, along with marquee pass rusher, Bud Dupree.
But before we tap into those weaknesses, let’s first look at the strengths.
Strengths of the Pittsburgh Steelers
Obviously, as stated twice in today’s post, Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin are on Pittsburgh’s Mount Rushmore along with Chuck Noll and perhaps Bill Cowher. Obviously, we’re talking just the Steelers and not the Pirates or the Penguins here.
Anyway, with Ben in the driver’s seat, the Steelers’ entire offense receives a boost. Plus, with Smith-Schuster returning, it gives the Steelers a legit WR1 if not a WR2. That’s if second-year pro Chase Claypool takes over the WR1 job after a stellar rookie season.
Add tight end Eric Ebron and slot receiver Diontae Johnson, and the Steelers have one of the best pass-catching attacks in football.
Another obvious strength for the Steelers is their defensive system. They’re one of those few teams where it doesn’t matter who’s playing where or at what position; they have a system in place and they go out and find players who fit the system well.
It’s one reason Joe Random can come on in and look like a stud on defense. He has the traits to match, and he’s more likely to be a star in the Steel City than with the other 31 NFL franchises. Expect another rendition of the Steel Curtain while they give the Steelers’ passing game plenty of time.
Weaknesses of the Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers have more needs now than they have in the past 15 seasons. It starts with running back, and it’s wise to believe that they will draft a back in the NFL Draft, which takes place on April 29th, 2021.
If you’re reading today’s post, odds are the draft already occurred. So if they drafted a running back in the first 2 rounds, you can take the first portion of the ‘Weaknesses’ section and place it with the strengths. If they stay “as is” at running back, then it’s a weakness heading into the season.
Ditto for the offensive line. The Steelers’ line saw Maurkice Pouncey announce his retirement and watched Alejandro Villanueva walk in free agency. The rest of the line, minus David DeCastro, has remained unimpressive.
One draft will not fix the offensive line unless they spend a few picks on the unit and coax back Villanueva before someone else signs him. At the time of today’s post, he remains a free agent.
They re-signed Zach Banner and signed Joe Haeg, B.J. Finney, and Rashaad Coward. The men are good depth players, but no one’s cowering in fear if they’re forced to go against them. The team’s best bet is to stockpile a few linemen. But again, it’s a long shot to say one draft will fix the unit.
Also, Ben showed his age late last season, and it’s one reason the Steelers finished 1-5. Ben actually played in 5 games, so with him in the saddle, they went 1-4 to finish the season. He appeared to hit a wall and played the worst football of his career, minus 2 glorious quarters during a comeback against the Colts.
And if you remember correctly, Ben and the offense weren’t playing well in the weeks leading up to the game against the Washington Football Team, in which they suffered their first loss.
While Ben remains a strength (see above section), he can also become a liability if the Steelers rely solely on him to win games on offense.
Pittsburgh Steelers Schedule
The Steelers play in a tough division. However, in 2020, they swept the Baltimore Ravens, but ironically finished 2-3 against the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns. They lost to a Bengals team that featured a third-string quarterback in one of the biggest regular season meltdowns in NFL history.
They gave the Browns the game in Week 17 by sitting several key starters, only to allow 48 points against their AFC North rival the following week. Remember, Browns’ head coach Kevin Stefanski missed the game with COVID-19. It’s a game even Nostradamus himself would’ve predicted Pittsburgh to win.
That said, a team that dominated their division rivals for so long now looks bleak, and it’s something you must consider when betting the Over/Under. Are the Steelers really the third-best team in the AFC North now? Or, will they keep being the Steelers and bounce back, as they often do?
However, if they’re the third-best team in the division, they still won it in 2020. That means they’re forced to play the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans, and the Seattle Seahawks. On paper, the Steelers match up well with the Titans.
- Against the other division winners, the Steelers appear weak. And that doesn’t count a road game against the Green Bay Packers. Expect the Steelers to struggle against the aforementioned teams and pull off 1 or 2 wins tops, if you’re engaging in realistic thinking here. Or, they can run the table in reverse.
- Against the AFC North, project a 3-3 finish given the talents of the Browns and Ravens. It’s always best to be conservative with these projections, and it gives you a baseline from which to work, and nothing else.
The Steelers should handle teams below them, and that includes the Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Cincinnati Bengals (twice), and Denver Broncos. Everyone has a bad game, but historically the Steelers do well here. Expect them to finish 4-2 or 5-1 against these teams.
The Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers are the wildcards, so let’s say they split here.
Pittsburgh has a tough schedule, and once again, it’s going to lead to a close call for the Over/Under.
Let’s talk about it.
Can the Pittsburgh Steelers Best Their Over/Under?
Of the scenario above, it depicts the Steelers with between 8 and 11 projected wins. History says they will still play the AFC North well, so again, 3-3 is realistic. They should win most of their games against the cupcake opponents, but again, everyone has a bad game or two.
As mentioned in the above section, they’ll finish 4-2 or 5-1 against those teams. Look for a split against the Chargers and Raiders, 2 teams on equal platforms as they.
Take 3 plus 4 plus 1, and you get 8 wins from a realistic standpoint. If you’re optimistic, you will give them a fifth win against the weakest teams on their schedule, which gives you 9 wins. And if you think they’re still the best in the North, give them another win and it puts you at 10.
It depends how they fare against the Packers, Seahawks, Chiefs, Bills, and Titans. But again, they only match well against the Titans and they’re behind the other 4 in talent level.
Will the Steelers best the Over/Under?
If you believe they can still win against the AFC North, and if you think they can beat the toughest teams on their schedule, they’re a solid bet for the Over. However, if you don’t think they’re capable of doing so in 2021, they’re a better bet for the Under.
It’s all about how you perceive it.
The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t as good as they once were. But with Roethlisberger and Tomlin still manning the helm, they can continue their run of dominance. It’s a safe bet to say they’re one of the trickier teams to place a bet, as seen in the final 2 sections of this post.
Overall, if you believe they can still win more of their divisional games and pull off wins against the league’s best teams, they’re a good bet for the Over. If you don’t believe so, go with the Under.
What are your thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers? Are they down and out, or are they raring to go for another winning bet with the Over?