Gear up, Mountain State bettors. Steelers country embraces a new age when the Black and Gold invade the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals in the Sept. 11 NFL season opener.
The post-Ben Roethlisberger era starts, and perhaps the Kenny Pickett reign will soon begin. But Mitchell Trubisky will have something to say about that in between.
Here are seven takeaways for bettors to consider at West Virginia sportsbooks now that the Steelers finished a 3-0 preseason with a 19-9 triumph over the Detroit Lions.
Pittsburgh Steelers odds at West Virginia sportsbooks
No.1: Steelers futures board at DraftKings WV shows value
The Steelers are a generous +1000 to win the AFC North, and although they are not expected to do so, their number probably should be closer to +750.
The Cleveland Browns are the +380 second choice, and their team chemistry has been disrupted by the Deshaun Watson situation. Their odds are probably too low, giving the Steelers more value than one would normally think.
The Baltimore Ravens are favored at +140, and the Cincinnati Bengals are next at +170 to win the division at DraftKings Sportsbook WV.
No. 2: Team and individual props offer intrigue
Here are some of the props from DraftKings:
Can Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool combine for more than 1,750 receiving yards? Yes is -105.
They did it last year, with Johnson notching 1,161 and Claypool 860 for their 2021 total. At first glance, it’s a slam-dunk yes. But on the flip side, neither receiver has Roethlisberger, now retired, and Claypool is injury prone.
Will the Steelers exceed 360 points this season? That’s an even-money +100 for yes. They need 20 points a game. They scored 343 last year.
Will Johnson, Najee Harris, and Pat Freiermuth combine for at least 16 touchdowns? Yes is +220. They had 18 last year. You get a price to take the risk of any one player being injured.
Will Trubisky exceed 3,550 yards passing? Yes is +275. It would have to be similar to his 3,223 in 2018 (with 16 games), and he would have to play the whole season. Pickett is going to see time.
No. 3: Pittsburgh win totals are playable from either side
Pittsburgh’s over-under is 7.5 wins. If the Steelers go 8-9 or better, gamblers cash the over at +100.
Those who think the Steelers can’t get victory No. 8 don’t have to lay too much juice. The under is -120. The bet is up in the air from both sides, although under bettors may pass if the line goes any higher.
No. 4: The Steelers have drafted exceptionally well recently
They got Najee Harris late in the first round in 2021. All he did was set a Steelers rookie all-purpose yardage record of 1,667 yards.
Almost hidden behind that is Freiermuth. He’s rapidly turned into one of the higher-quality tight ends and was invaluable to the Steelers on third down last year.
And then there’s Pickett. The Pitt product not only developed significant support, but also, he played well in the preseason. Sure, he looked green at times, but there is plenty of upside.
One reason the Steelers always get late draft picks is that coach Mike Tomlin has never suffered a losing season. Ever.
Tomlin set an NFL record last year, becoming the first coach to avoid a losing season in his first 15 years. Maybe the mark appears muted in recent years, with the Steelers going 8-8 and 9-7-1. But it shows that Tomlin gets enough out of his players and that the Steelers try to avoid complete rebuilds.
Tomlin doesn’t have Roethlisberger this year, but how much of Big Ben did the Steelers have in the last two seasons? His passing numbers were similar to rookies’.
No. 5: Trubisky had a better preseason than Pickett
The logical scenario is that he begins the season and Pickett is ready should circumstances warrant it. Trubisky’s 2018 season comes close to matching Big Ben’s passing numbers of 3,803 and 3,740 yards the past two seasons.
Both Pickett and Trubisky offer the running component the aging Roethlisberger could not. How well each reacts to poor line protection must be measured. The Steelers have been forced to emphasize skill position players over the interior line in the last couple of drafts.
Trubisky played the first half of Pittsburgh’s win over the Lions. He was 15 of 19, with one touchdown.
Pickett was good in the second half, with 10 of 14 passing and no touchdowns. Neither threw a pick.
No. 6: Tomlin says Johnson and Watt’s injuries are minor
Johnson hurt his shoulder after hauling in a 38-yard completion from Trubisky against the Lions. Watt, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, injured his knee on a cut block from Detroit tight end T.J. Hockenson.
Tomlin said that had this been a regular season game, both could have returned. But they came out for precautionary reasons and now have more than a week to rest up.
No. 7: The point after: Stay tuned on Harris
Harris raised some eyebrows by saying he’d been dealing with a Lisfranc sprain in his foot, reportedly suffered on the first day of training camp. It takes about 4-6 weeks to heal, and he’s at the tail end of that cycle now.
He did play against the Lions, although he looked rusty.