If the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp battles tell us anything, it is the Steelers are strong on the outside. Wide receiver George Pickens has lit up training camp and the first preseason game, but his camp battles with rookie corner Joey Porter Jr. were Rocky vs. Apollo Creed.
The Steelers’ bets should flow accordingly.
Porter Jr. can battle Pickens, whose immense talent is still outpacing his ego by a half step, he figures to fare well against the other receivers in the AFC North. The Steelers’ secondary, which has been good but not great, appears to be significantly improved.
Pickens’s route running and moves Friday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were excellent.
Vegas oddsmakers aren’t yet sold on the Steelers, and that gives you an early advantage. Take it and get $150 of DraftKings bonuses, too.
What is a four-point swing in each direction? If the Steelers simply converted one field goal into a touchdown per game, their offense would rocket up to 14th in the NFL.
Allowing fewer points, by virtue of a few more pass defenses in crunch time, or being able to get off the field on third down, should result in a big swing on both sides of the ball.
Oddsmakers have them at 8.5 wins?! Yeah, take the over and take their money with a smile. A 9-8 season would be a disappointment.
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There seems to be a schism between bettors and analysts. While the Steelers’ win over/under is only 8.5, most analysts see the Steelers’ 25th-ranked schedule as a blessing. CBS puts them at 11-6. Louis Riddick of ESPN was similarly fired up.
The first preseason game can and should offer more Steelers bets optimism.
The defense looks pretty good, too. Even the inside linebackers passed the first test Friday against Tampa Bay.
The Steelers are still forming. Every NFL season has twists, unexpected injury challenges, and players who surprise to the positive and negative.
But before the oddsmakers figure out the Steelers are better than expected, grab the odds and take the over.