Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Betting Preview: Roethlisberger Returns

Posted on: August 18, 2020, 07:57h. 

Last updated on: August 18, 2020, 09:23h.

With a healthy elbow, two-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger is back to shoulder the load for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger led the NFL in passing yards in 2018 but lost both of his starts in 2019. (Image: Karl Roser/USA TODAY Sports)

Roethlisberger missed the final 14 games of last season with an injury that required surgery to repair three of the five tendons in his throwing elbow. Without him, the Steelers were sunk. After posting five consecutive top-10 finishes in scoring, they ranked just 27th last season, as backup quarterbacks Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges couldn’t find the end zone with a map and GPS.

At age 38, Roethlisberger returns with a burning desire to win a third Super Bowl, but his first since 2008.

“I still want to win Lombardis. And I say that with an ‘s’ on the end,” Roethlisberger told reporters a couple of weeks ago.

But oddsmakers don’t love their chances of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy this season.

The Steelers are 10th in William Hill’s Super Bowl odds at +2,500. They’re also +2,500 at Westgate SuperBook, a big slide backward after opening at +1,200, and with the fifth-shortest odds.

Over/Under: 9 Wins

While the Baltimore Ravens are expected to run away with the AFC North, the Steelers should contend for a playoff berth. JuJu Smith-Schuster is a premier receiver, and James Conner leads a diverse backfield. They added weapons in the draft with receiver Chase Claypool and in free agency with tight end Eric Ebron. The defense, which finished fifth in points allowed, is typically strong.

While Pittsburgh managed to go 8-8 despite Roethlisberger’s prolonged absence, oddsmakers don’t see a quantum leap forward in 2020.

Bookmakers would be entitled to challenge gamblers [based on] his pre-elbow injury days and the fact that his age within the sport is the greatest opponent of all for a 17-year veteran,” Jason Scott, vice president of trading at BetMGM, told Casino.org.

“Wishing him all the best. But the game in his head to overcome may be greater than the one he plays out on the field as he returns from a long time out [of action].”

Despite a talented roster and easy schedule, MGM set the over/under on nine wins (-115 on the over; -105 on the under). At PointsBet, it’s 9.5 wins (+110 on the over; -135 on the under).

Sacking Steelers

As is the case with most teams, the play of the quarterback will determine the team’s success. Can Roethlisberger play like he did in 2018, when he led the NFL in passing yards?

DraftKings has Roethlisberger and Washington’s Alex Smith as cofavorites to win Comeback Player of the Year at +300. Roethlisberger (+350) is the outright favorite at MGM.

His over/under for passing yards is 3,800.5 at DraftKings but 3,999.5 at MGM.

Defensively, outside linebackers T.J. Watt (14.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles) and Bud Dupree (11.5 sacks, four forced fumbles) provide a fearsome pass rush. Watt is among the favorites to Defensive Player of the Year. He’s +1,200 at MGM, PointsBet and SuperBook and +1,400 at DraftKings.

Editor’s Note: This is the sixth of 32 NFL team previews. The series continues this week with the rest of the AFC North.