Pittsburgh Steelers Enter 2021 Season As Sizable Underdogs In Week 1 Against Buffalo

Written By Dave Bontempo on September 10, 2021 - Last Updated on March 16, 2023

Is there any residue from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 meltdown?

That’s what Mountain State online sports bettors want to know when Pittsburgh invades the Buffalo Bills for the season opener as a large underdog. It’s listed at +6.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook West Virginia.

Concerns emerged from Pittsburgh’s collapse last season. It slumped from an 11-0 to 12-4 regular-season mark and a subsequent blunder-filled 48-37 playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Early in the decline, Pittsburgh suffered a 26-15 regular-season setback to Buffalo. It was notable because the Steelers were underdogs for the first time all year, at +2.5.

Pittsburgh is a larger underdog now, not only in this game but in the AFC North.

At DraftKings, the Baltimore Ravens at +110 and the Cleveland Browns at +155 are expected to control the division. Pittsburgh is +500.

“The betting sentiments have changed in that division,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told PlayWV.

“The question for Pittsburgh is whether Ben Roethlisberger can stay healthy,” he added regarding the aging but talented Steelers quarterback. “This is most likely his last year, so can he go a full season and take them deep into the postseason? There are a lot of question marks there.”

Betting On The Pittsburgh Steelers At WV Sportsbooks

Can This Harris Be THAT Harris?

Pittsburgh was last in the NFL for rushing yardage last year. It used short outlet passes as a de facto running game. Late in the season, receivers started dropping passes, defenses crowded the short-passing routes and the Steelers fizzled.

They addressed the problem at the NFL Draft. Najee Harris was an excellent player to grab in the 24th slot. The Steelers nabbed the back, who had tallied three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) in Alabama’s National Championship rout of Ohio State.

The back’s size and speed brought hopeful comparisons to all-time Steelers great Franco Harris, who propelled the Steelers to their first string of Super Bowl championships in the 1970s.

That Steelers team also developed a strong offensive line. Can this team do it too?

Steelers Betting Options

At Caesars WV, why wait three hours for the outcome? There are bets for the first drive of the game for each team.

Pittsburgh’s first drive:

  • Punt -103
  • Touchdown +295
  • Field goal attempt +375
  • Turnover +450

If you like the Steelers’ defense, here is Buffalo’s first drive:

  • Punt +125
  • Touchdown +210
  • Field goal attempt +360
  • Turnover +500

With DraftKings, bettors can tease the line.

The Steelers are -110 for +6.5.

Buying a point to make the spread +7.5 is –140. It’s borderline expensive but something that will be considered by a heavy bettor.

That line can be altered the other way, too, by taking it down.

The Steelers +3.5 is +135. That’s a reasonable price and still gives players the hook if they think Pittsburgh can keep it within a field goal.

The Steelers are +240 on the moneyline, a sweet price if they pull off the upset.

Anytime scorers is a fan-favorite prop at DraftKings.

Harris is +120 to score anytime and +800 to score first. He is expected to be featured in the offense, with perhaps 20 carries. The Steelers will try establishing a running game to protect Roethlisberger.

There are several receiving props involving Chase Claypool, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson, among others. The corps is so talented that they make the first TD payout attractive (+1200 for Claypool, +1400 for Smith-Schuster and Johnson) but it’s hard to pinpoint the likely first scoring target.

Johnson was the most sure-handed clutch receiver for Roethlisberger last year.

Season Angles With BetMGM Sportsbook

The consensus is that Pittsburgh is in the eight- or nine-win category.

Here’s a chance to nail an exact win total for a hefty payout at BetMGM Sportsbook WV:

  • Eight wins +500
  • Nine wins +700
  • 10 wins +700
  • 11 wins +800

There are a couple of avenues here for bettors. One is to take a stab at an exact win total.

Another is to group wins eight-11, much like UFC bettors stringing together knockout rounds to increase the chance of hitting. Bettors essentially create a profit boost, forming a higher chance to collect at a smaller price.

For conversation’s sake, put $100 on all four of the mentioned totals. The lowest, eight wins, provides a 25% profit. The nine and 10 numbers return a 75% profit. The 11 is a 100% profit.

Big-money bettors will look closely at this strategy, leveraging a large bankroll for what’s considered a likely payout. Small bettors won’t dabble in it.

Photo by Keith Srakocic / The Associated Press
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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others. He writes significantly about the emerging world of legal New Jersey sports betting.

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