No NFL quarterback threw for more yards a season ago than Ben Roethlisberger. No, not even Patrick Mahomes. Big Ben went on to throw for 5,129 yards and completed just under 67 percent of his passes. Pulling off the feat without the pass-catching abilities of Le’Veon Bell in the mix was without a doubt impressive. Now let’s see if he can do it without Lev Bell and Antonio Brown with his favorite target bolting for Oakland this past offseason. Linemakers at online sportsbooks are skeptical with his passing yards and touchdown props well below what was put forth last season with the betting markets of the belief his final stat lines come in even lower. Are the days of the Steelers slinging the pigskin around the ball yard coming to a bitter end?
Total Passing Yards: 4450.5
Total Passing TD: 28.5
Not if JuJu Smith-Schuster has anything to say about it! Roethlisberger was inked to a two-year contract extension in the offseason, so one of the league’s more dominating wide receivers now has a couple more seasons to make hay before the big bucks roll in for him. It’s not like Pittsburgh’s without receiving talent either. Along with rushing for nearly 1,000 yards in just 13 games, James Connor also proved to be a weapon in the passing game by hauling in 55 receptions and turning them into 497 yards and a score. Rounding out the pass-catching corps is second-year wide receiver James Washington who will see his role in the offense expand, journeyman Donte Moncrief, Eli Rogers and Ryan Switzer. I’d be remiss if tight end Vance McDonald wasn’t mentioned with the big guy targeted the fourth most times last season; more should be headed his way due to AB’s departure. Hopefully more stiff arms like the one administered upon Chris Conte on Monday Night Football are in order this season and beyond!
Though the AFC North has been dominated by the Steelers and Ravens since the turn of the century, neither currently checks in as the favored squad to bring home division title honors this season. Instead, it’s the Cleveland Browns that check in slight favorites over Pittsburgh with Baltimore in both squads’ wake. After missing out on the playoffs a season ago, the Steelers are +2550 underdogs to hoist the Lombardi Trophy come the conclusion of Super Bowl LIV, and five teams offer up shorter odds to win the AFC. It’s called respect, and the yellow and black are getting absolutely none from offshore sportsbooks and the betting markets!
Pittsburgh Steelers Football Schedule
Week 1: Steelers at Patriots, Sunday, September 8, 8:20 p.m. ET - NBC
Week 2: Seahawks at Steelers, Sunday, September 15, 1 p.m. ET - FOX
Week 3: Steelers at 49ers, Sunday, September 22, 4:25 p.m. ET - CBS
Week 4: Bengals at Steelers, Monday, September 30, 8:15 p.m. ET - ESPN
Week 5: Ravens at Steelers, Sunday, October 6, 1 p.m. ET - CBS
Week 6: Steelers at Chargers, Sunday, October 13, 8:20 p.m. ET - NBC
Week 7: Bye Week
Week 8: Dolphins at Steelers, Monday, October 28, 8:15 p.m. ET - ESPN
Week 9: Colts at Steelers, Sunday, November 3, 1 p.m. ET - CBS
Week 10: Rams at Steelers, Sunday, November 10, 4:25 p.m. ET - FOX
Week 11: Steelers at Browns, Thursday, November 14, 8:20 p.m. ET – NFL Network
Week 12: Steelers at Bengals, Sunday, November 24, 1 p.m. ET - CBS
Week 13: Browns at Steelers, Sunday, December 1, 4:25 p.m. ET – CBS
Week 14: Steelers at Cardinals, Sunday, December 8, 4:25 p.m. ET - CBS
Week 15: Bills at Steelers, Sunday, December 15, 1 p.m. ET - CBS
Week 16: Steelers at Jets, Sunday, December 22, 1 p.m. ET - CBS
Week 17: Steelers at Ravens, Sunday, December 29, 1 p.m. ET - CBS
At the ripe old age of 37 with little tread remaining on the tires, Roethlisberger has seen his fantasy football draft stock plummet. Guys like Dak Prescott, Lamar Jackson, Jameis Winston and even Kyler Murray are being drafted ahead of him. You can bet your bottom dollar he and the team come out extremely motivated to put on a show the opening week of the season in New England after playing to a tie against Cleveland that ultimately cost them a trip to the playoffs. It’ll be favored to win its next four before going to Los Angeles to battle the Chargers and their hardnosed defense. Only one of the first six opponents possessed a defense that was tough on quarterbacks a season ago, and it remains to be seen just how good the Ravens will be on that side of the ball with so many defections from last year’s No. 1 ranked unit. Going by last season’s outputs, Ben won’t face another top ranked pass defense until Week 14. With that, there will be plenty of opportunities for the veteran to make those fading him atone for their sins.
I’m thinking betting markets put Pittsburgh on life support prematurely. Last year was no doubt sobering for a veteran bunch that infused a bunch of younger talent into the roster this past offseason. For the Steelers to excel as a team and for Roethlisberger to have any shot of surpassing both of his passing and touchdown props at top rated sportsbooks, the team must do a much better job in the turnover department; on both sides of the ball. The defense forced a grand total of 15, while the offense coughed it up a whopping 26 times with Big Ben contributing 16 interceptions to the final tally. Positive regression is likely in store with the defense shaping up to be one of the better in the league just by inserting Devin Bush Jr. into the linebacker corps.
Pittsburgh will be playing with a chip on its shoulder all season, and I plan on banking on that aggression in any way, shape or form. That said, the offense won’t be as electric as it once was, and it could look to the ground attack more often with it possessing a defense it can once again rely upon. JuJu getting opposing defense’s top cover men won’t help Big Ben’s cause either. Asking him to throw for more yards than he’s done five of the last seven seasons is a bit rich. The number to beat the touchdown prop is also as sharp as they come. While not a huge fan of suggesting it, I’d go under both imposts if you need action on Big Ben this season.
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