2021 Pittsburgh Steelers – Betting Win Totals: Will Big Ben ride off into the sunset?
What a return Ben Roethlisberger made last season. After missing all but two games in the 2019 season, Big Ben bounced back last season and led the Steelers to 11 straight wins to open the season. Pittsburgh won the AFC North, but it sure didn’t feel that way.
The Steelers won just one more game last season after the hot start. Adding insult to injury, Pittsburgh’s season came to an end in the wildcard round against hated division rival, Cleveland.
After defeating Cleveland 38-7 in Week 6, Roethlisberger did not play in the regular-season finale against the Browns which a win would have prevented the Browns from making the playoffs.
As it played out, the Browns won the Week 17 matchup and then proceeded to bounce Big Ben and the Steelers from the playoffs the following week in a 48-37 shootout in a game that wasn’t that close until the fourth quarter.
At the age of 39 and becoming more fragile with each passing season, this could be Roethlisberger’s last stand in Pittsburgh. Can Ben prove that he can still keep up with the young guns of the division?
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Steep Hill to Climb
Even without an aging quarterback, the road that faces Pittsburgh this season would be an arduous task. Thanks in large part to the resurgence of Cleveland and Baltimore’s continued success — both led by young superstar quarterbacks — the Steelers have the league’s toughest strength of schedule this season.
A total of 10 teams that made the playoffs last season land on the Steelers’ schedule this season. All-in-all, the Steelers’ opponents finished last season with a winning percentage of .574 (155-115-2). Baltimore is second at .563 with the Bears also near the top at .550.
Right out of the gate, the Steelers will be tested. Pittsburg opens the season at one of the top picks to make it to the Super Bowl this season in the Josh Allen-led Buffalo Bills.
Buffalo has the third-shortest odds of winning the Super Bowl at +1100, according to Betonline MyBookie has the Steelers as a touchdown underdog in the NFL Week 1 Showdown in Buffalo and the over/under set at 50 points.
Pittsburgh also travels to Green Bay for a NFL Week 4 meeting with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. With Rodgers ending his holdout in Green Bay, Betonline has the Packers tied with the Bills at +1100 odds of winning the Super Bowl this season.
Sticking to facing off against superstar quarterbacks, Pittsburgh plays host to Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in NFL Week 6.
In NFL Weeks 15 and 16, the Steelers play host to Tennessee and then Super Bowl favorite Kansas City. Just for fun, the game against the Chiefs will be at Arrowhead Stadium.
If Pittsburgh is still standing after running the gauntlet of non-divisional games through the first 16 weeks, the Steelers will end the regular season with two more tall tasks. In NFL Week 17 the Browns pay a visit to Pittsburgh before finishing up the season at Baltimore.
The Ravens are the favorite to win the AFC North at +125, slightly over Cleveland at +135, according to BetUs. The sportsbook currently has Pittsburgh at +300 odds to repeat as champions of the North.
Keys to Victory
Like any team, the offensive line will be one of the keys to success for the Steelers. With an aging quarterback and a rookie running back in Najee Harris, the Steelers’ big guys in the trenches may have a little added pressure on them this season. Those guys include Zach Banner, Kevin Dotson, Kendrick Green, Xhukwuma Okorafor, and Trai Turner.
Harris replaces James Conner in the backfield and should be a slight upgrade, while Ben Big will have weapons in JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, Dionte Johnson, and James Washington at his disposal in addition to tight end Eric Ebron.
Big Ben will not ride out into the sunset on top. This division belongs to the young guns in Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield. With this schedule, hitting the projected 8.5 wins is going to be an arduous task.
With Baltimore and Cleveland batting for the division until the bitter end, the Steelers are going to fall short of the playoffs and the 8.5 wins.
2021 Regular Season Record: 8-9, 3rd in AFC North