How Ben Roethlisberger Shapes Up the Pittsburgh Steelers Futures in 2021

Ben Roethlisberger Steelers Background

For years, decades really, the Pittsburgh Steelers were among the safest teams in the NFL to place a futures bet on. And if you routinely bet on them, chances are they won you something most of the time.

If you didn’t believe in them initially, chances are you became a believer in them. Here are the Steelers, teetering not just in the futures betting niche but in all facets of the NFL. Gone are the guaranteed wins against Cleveland. Gone are the thrilling victories that often won them the AFC North Crown. And gone is a Steel Curtain, or a ‘Still Curtain,’ who almost always bailed out their offense.

With Ben Roethlisberger returning, the Steelers may remain decent futures bets. But is the window closing? Today’s post will break it down.

Ben Roethlisberger’s Upside for the Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers have 3 quarterbacks on the roster capable of starting for any NFL franchise in Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, and Dwayne Haskins.

Obviously, Roethlisberger gives the Steelers the best chance to win. He can still play, evidenced by his stellar statistics over the first 3 months of the 2020 season, along with his 11-0 record.

That alone should tell you something.

The Steelers can remain a decent futures bet in all facets. One player can’t make a bad team. But one player can elevate a team with a talent level that’s halfway decent. Like the Steelers.

Ben Roethlisberger still gives the Steelers a fighting chance against their toughest division rivals in the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens.
Ben Roethlisberger Steelers Vs Ravens

Oh, and they must also face the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs in 2021. You guessed right if you thought they had a tough schedule to contend with.

Add in the Green Bay Packers, and Steelers will play 7 teams that won 10-plus games AND made the playoffs in 2020. Sure, Rudolph and Haskins can start. But it’s possible they would end up 0-7 against some of the league’s toughest teams.

Please Note:
Ben’s presence alone should give you hope if you’re betting on the Steelers to win the AFC North, make a playoff run, and encroach their Over/Under. However, it might finally be time to proceed with your wager at the NFL betting sites with caution, as the next section explains.

Ben Roethlisberger’s Downside

Ben Roethlisberger may have led the Steelers to a stellar 11-0 start in 2020. Only he floundered to a 1-5 finish down the stretch. Or better yet, a 1-4 finish, considering Mason Rudolph played in the last game against Cleveland.

Mason Rudolph Tackled Vs Cleveland

But still, the Steelers finished 1-5 in what has become one of the biggest collapses in NFL history, perhaps next to the 2003 Minnesota Vikings who missed the playoffs after a 6-0 start.

Worse, Ben showed his age after the 11-0 start. While he held an 8 to 4 touchdown to interception ratio, his completion percentage dropped under 63 percent 3 times.

He also had 3 straight games where his quarterback rating dipped below 85.

In 2 games, it dipped below 70. From the 10th game until the 15th game, his yards per attempt dropped under 7. And in 5 of those games, it was under 6, well into the infamous “Blaine Gabbert Zone.”

Sometimes, we can blame the defense.

But keep this in mind:
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense never allowed over 4 touchdowns in that stretch. The defense never collapsed. And in 3 of Roethlisberger’s final 4 starts of the regular season, his Steelers scored under 20 points.

It was a true offensive collapse, unlike any other. And given Ben Roethlisberger’s numbers during the span, especially when compared with those he put up during his first 10 games, he can shoulder much of the blame.

If this indicates Roethlisberger showing his age, the Steelers cannot rely on him to bail them out as he has done so many times over the past 17 seasons. Including over the first 11 games of 2020.

So, what must the Steelers do to win the AFC North and remain solid futures bets?

The next section will explain.

To Win the AFC North, the Pittsburgh Steelers Must…

Revert to the team they were during Ben Roethlisberger’s formative years. It’s a tough pill for Steeler fans to swallow, but Ben played little part in helping the team eclipse a 15-1 record in 2004 and winning the Super Bowl in 2005.

Instead, he threw the ball 295 times in 2004 and just 268 times in 2005. He wasn’t asked to do much more than to turn around and give the ball to his backs while the offensive line helped move the sticks. The second incarnation of the Steel Curtain was also in full effect.

Not that Roethlisberger’s presence didn’t help. It did.

But we have given him far more credit than due. Thank Willie Parker and the Bus, Jerome Bettis. And thank one of the league’s finest defensive units for that run in 2004 and 2005, which culminated in a Super Bowl Championship.

And the formula worked. Now that Roethlisberger’s stats are dwindling, it’s time to return to the smashmouth game. Best yet, the Steelers have a defense that can make this work. And it’s a huge plus for this football team.

Problem is, they have no running game. James Conner is probably gone.

James Conner Steelers

So look for the Steelers to take their pick in what is a deep running back class in the 2021 NFL Draft. Perhaps they’ll even take a second back and work this thing out of a committee.

Sure, they’ll need a few more puzzle pieces on defense. But with a solid pass-catching unit and the potential to land something big in the NFL Draft at running back, the Steelers can still make a run.

Please Note:
They must continue to compete with the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns. Both teams have created identities throughout the NFL using the smashmouth game along with gadget quarterbacks. Apologies, Browns and Ravens fans, but neither Mayfield nor Jackson are much without their centerpieces.

However, this defines AFC North football at its finest. Build the game around the run and the defense, throw the ball when needed with a gadget quarterback.

Mayfield and Jackson have succeeded in such schemes. But neither has accomplished what Ben has, which is winning the Super Bowl.

If the Steelers return to this, they’re still among the league’s safest futures bets.

But, you need to pay attention to them in free agency.

  • Will the draft or sign solid offensive linemen and running backs?
  • Can they fill in the few holes on defense?
  • And are they cool with turning Ben back into a gadget player?

How the Pittsburgh Steelers Stack Up Against the AFC North

Perhaps no other team has a harder track to repeat as division champions than the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns smell blood in the water, and each may pose as better futures bets for the AFC North, Over/Under, and even the NFL playoffs.

The Browns proved it in 2020 when they came into Pittsburgh and pulled off the upset. Worse yet, the Browns had the Steelers’ mighty defense figured out for most of the contest.

As for the Ravens, the Steelers barely escaped twice:
Once in Baltimore, where they stalled a late drive from Lamar Jackson just as he had his Ravens at the team’s doorstep. But the real mishaps came during their second meeting with the Ravens when they barely escaped the Robert Griffin slash Trace McSorley duo.

Given their late-season collapse along with the Browns and Ravens, each winning on Wildcard Weekend, the Steelers may be the AFC North’s third-best team regardless if Ben Roethlisberger is here.

Sure, he still gives the Steelers the best chance to win. But let’s be honest – they couldn’t even beat the Ryan Finley-led Cincinnati Bengals in which Ben had one of the worst games of his career. The Browns and Ravens aside, the Bengals may also pose as a threat to the Steelers.

For years:
The Steelers ruled this division, particularly the Browns. Now that the Browns escaped with a playoff win against their big brother and both the Ravens and Bengals gave them trouble, along with the late-season collapse, the Steelers can easily find themselves in a spot they haven’t been in decades.

In the AFC North’s basement. Farfetched as it sounds, it’s now a legit possibility. And don’t let it shock you if it happens.

Conclusion 

Ben Roethlisberger will probably make the Pittsburgh Steelers into at least a halfway-decent futures option. But as you can see, the window is closing fast, and if his age shows or if the Steelers rely too much on him, the Steelers can easily find themselves out of playoff contention.

Are they a safer bet?

Safer as far as paper goes. However, they’re nowhere near as safe of a bet as they have been in the past. The Browns and Ravens may be better options if you’re looking to place a futures bet on an AFC North team.

But that also doesn’t mean you should count out the Steelers.

What are your thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers? Are they still among the league’s safest bets at online sportsbooks? Or have they finally run their course?

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Rex Hoffman / Author

Rex Hoffman is a passionate sports writer, with over five years of experience covering sports journalism in line with the Vegas betting landscape. His favorite subjects include football, basketball, and baseball. As a Las Vegas resident, he enjoys finding an edge against the local sportsbooks and aims to share his extensive knowledge with both beginners and experienced bettors. Rex also dabbles in horse racing wagering and enjoys typical casino fare like blackjack and poker in his spare time.