After a late season collapse (after an 11-0 start) and a loss to the hated Browns in the first round of the playoffs, the Pittsburgh Steelers begin their 2021 campaign hoping QB Ben Roethlisberger absorbs some of the youthfulness of the many young, new faces with whom he will be taking the field. If rookie center Kendrick Green is healthy enough to start, Pittsburgh could have as many as four rookie offensive first-teamers. Green would likely be joined by RB Najee Harris, LT Dan Moore, Jr., and TE Pat Freiermuth, a group including each of the Steelers’ first four picks in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Inside this Steelers vs. Bills pick breakdown is a look at the odds, a full game breakdown, and an ATS prediction on how to bet the Pittsburgh vs. Buffalo Week 1 matchup.
Steelers vs. Bills Pick
Pittsburgh’s opponent and host on Sunday is none other than the Buffalo Bills, the team who has beaten the Steelers in each of the last two seasons and made it to the AFC Championship Game last year. Buffalo returns most everyone imaginable from last season’s roster and will try to find a way to surpass what was already a fantasyland experience in 2020.
The main failing in Pittsburgh’s 17-10 and 26-15 defeats at the hands of the Bills in 2019 and 2020, respectively, was the team’s distinct inability to effectively run the football. The hope is that first round draft pick, Harris, will help rectify that shortcoming, while also proving a tremendous receiving back, something Big Ben has coveted since Le’Veon Bell’s departure. Harris remarkably dropped just two of 75 catchable balls since 2019 while at Alabama.
His presence should dramatically improve upon the 51 and 47 yard rushing efforts from the two aforementioned Buffalo losses and give Roethlisberger another underneath weapon.
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Steelers vs. Bills Odds
Here is a look at the Steelers vs. Bills odds:
|Steelers||+6.5 (-115)||+230||O 48.5 (-110)|
|Bills||-6.5 (-105)||-290||U 48.5 (-110)|
The impressive 2020 season for Buffalo and its star quarterback, Josh Allen, gave good cause to this game opening with the Bills listed as six point favorites. Factor in those back-to-back wins in the head-to-head matchup and roughly 65% of the bets on this game on Buffalo and it’s not difficult to understand the subsequent move up to -6.5. This game’s line is a significant bump up from last season’s when Buffalo was favored by less than a field goal at home against a Steelers team entering play at 11-1. Sunday’s total opened around 50.5 and can be found as low as 48 at certain betting houses currently, perhaps inching downward due to the 27 and 41 total points scored the last two times these two met.
The Bills’ late season surge and ability to keep its highly successful team intact has clearly been enough to convince most bettors to lay nearly a touchdown here, but we see great value in the underdogs. For starters, did you know that Buffalo did not win a single game by more than 11 points until Week 15 last season, a number that is within the threshold of any trash touchdown producing a backdoor cover? In the Bills’ 19-game 2020 season, they had four losses, four wins by less than seven points, and 11 wins by 11 points or less.
That seems a pretty sobering realization of how close this league can be when all of that can be said about a team that went to the AFC Championship Game and rattled off eight straight covers along the way.
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Buffalo was just 3-4-1 ATS to begin the 2020 season and would have been 3-6 ATS using this game’s line across their last nine season openers, winning just one of those nine by more than 10 points. They also have a divisional road game at Miami next week, giving them a greater chance at split attention here than the Steelers, who are on a bit of a free roll, playing as huge road dogs ahead of two upcoming home games against teams that finished .500 or below last season.
Speaking of Pittsburgh, if you want to wager on this team, this spot is one of the better ones you are likely to find. The Steelers are nefariously good in the underdog role, one they haven’t played a ton during 14 straight seasons of .500 and above football under head coach Mike Tomlin. Under Tomlin, Pittsburgh is 36-20 ATS as an underdog, including just eight ATS losses in his last 33 as such. Roethlisberger is 36-21 ATS as a dog when under center and is also 47-34 ATS when playing with revenge.
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Pittsburgh has covered 10 of its last 13 games when getting points on the road and is a mind-blowing 16-1 ATS in its last 17 as pups of less than seven versus above .500 opponents (which, obviously, Buffalo is not yet, but we should all be able to take that short mental leap).
The Steelers can also brag a 4-0-1 ATS record in their last five September games, as well as a 12-1 ATS mark off a double digit SU divisional loss when facing a non-divisional opponent. In fact, after losing its first playoff game last season 48-37 against Cleveland, we should mention that Pittsburgh has covered six straight games after allowing 35 points or more and eight straight after scoring 35 or more against the AFC North.
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Steelers vs. Bills ATS Prediction
The public loves to bet on a good team laying less than a touchdown at home. However, we are going to graciously gobble up these generous points with a Pittsburgh group that led the league in defensive sacks (56) in 2020, while also allowing the NFL’s fewest sacks (14).
Roethlisberger gets the backfield help he has needed and the Steelers keep it close enough to nab a cover here.
Our Pick: Pittsburgh +6.5
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