The buzz is officially underway in Pittsburgh, along with the NFL preseason. Bettors all over Mountain State are curious about how their favorite professional team will fare this upcoming year.
Who follows Big Ben? Now that Kenny Pickett threw a game-winning touchdown with three seconds left to give the Steelers a preseason victory over the Seattle Seahawks, the countdown clock to the regular season is ticking.
The date of Sept. 11, which is the first game of the season for most NFL teams, and a prime AFC North battle between the Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, is closing in fast.
Will Pickett, Mitchell Trubisky, or Mason Rudolph fill the shoes of retired Steelers great Ben Roethlisberger? And how good will the Steelers be?
Let’s examine the entire division.
AFC North futures odds at WV sportsbooks
Here are the DraftKings Sportsbook WV odds to win the AFC North:
- Baltimore Ravens +155
- Cincinnati Bengals +180
- Cleveland Browns +320
- Pittsburgh Steelers +1100
Projected victories and prices at the online sportsbook include:
- Steelers 7.5 wins: over (+100)/under (-120)
- Cincinnati 10 wins: over (+100)/under (-120)
- Baltimore 9.5 wins: over (-160)/under (+130)
WV sportsbooks have been reluctant to post Cleveland Browns victory totals and individual props.
Projected starting quarterback Deshaun Watson will miss several games because of sexual misconduct charges levied against him by more than 20 women.
Prop betting markets for the AFC North
Can Diontae Johnson, Najee Harris, and Pat Freiermuth combine for more than 15.5 touchdown passes? Yes is +280.
It’s a fair prop, as the trio combined for 18 last year. Whether to pull the trigger depends on how a bettor evaluates the quarterbacks and who each has the best chemistry with.
Will Harris amass more than 1,250 rushing and 500 receiving yards? Yes is +275. This requires a slight uptick in production. Harris hit 1,200 rushing and 467 receiving yards last year.
Will the Steelers exceed 360.5 points? Their number was 343 last year. You need just over 21 points a game. The price is +100.
Again, these are fair odds for something in the 50-50 range. Big Ben couldn’t run, so the upbeat tempo and scrambling ability of Trubisky or Pickett could spark the offensive total.
Will Baltimore score at least 450 points in the regular season? This is +140 and an interesting play.
The Ravens can be explosive, but teams are finding out how to contain Lamar Jackson. They need 27 points a game to hit this prop.
Will Justin Tucker go through the entire season without missing a field goal? Yes is +2500. That’s asking too much of anybody, although Tucker has done it. Nonetheless, he has started to miss some field goals people consider automatic for him.
Will the Bengals score more than 425.5 points this season? The yes option is +100. The Bengals tallied 460 last year.
Will Ja’Marr Chase have at least one game with 200 yards? You can feel that bet reeling you in, right? It pays +450. He did it twice last year.
Can Joe Burrow throw for more than 4,500 yards and reach 35 touchdowns? Yes is +250.
Burrow threw for 4,611 yards last year and had 34 touchdowns. He also had his appendix taken out in late July, and although he should be ready for Week One, a single game on the sidelines could hurt that projection.
Will Burrow have at least one game with 500 yards passing? Yes is +900.
Same principle as the Chase prop. A 500-yard game is extremely rare. Burrow did it once last year. That’s why the bet is out there.
Examining the AFC North teams
Why you would (and would not) be bullish on a prop from each of these teams:
Steelers over 7.5 wins
Pickett was an excellent pluck in a year in which few quarterbacks were sought in the NFL draft. He won the 2021 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award as the best college upperclassman quarterback.
Joe Burrow won it in 2019 and has been in a Super Bowl. Mac Jones earned it in 2020, and he guides the New England Patriots. How far will Pickett come this year?
On the other hand, Big Ben picked out second, third, and fourth options. His feel for the game can’t be replaced, which could be growing pains for his successor.
Ravens over 450 points
The team has an excellent overall running game. Mark Andrews is an elite tight end. And here’s a secret: Tyler Huntley is not a big drop-off from Jackson. He runs almost as well and arguably throws a better ball.
At the same time, defenses are learning to contain Lamar Jackson enough to make him beat them through the air. Is he becoming Michael Vick?
Jacoby Brissett is pretty decent. He’s an added running threat. The Browns still have the league’s best overall backfield in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
The team is also in disarray. They gave up on Baker Mayfield too soon and emptied the bank for Watson’s problems. Hunt wants to be traded. It’s possible this team could be rudderless.
Bengals to win the division
They should outpace the confused Browns and the rebuilding Steelers. If all they have to do is beat the Ravens, +180 is a nice price.
A strike against the Bengals is that any disruption regarding Burrow would hurt this team drastically.