For most of the 2020 NFL season, the Pittsburgh Steelers were a sure thing. They looked unbeatable on the way to an 11-0 start, but then everything fell apart. And as the 2021 season draws near, it is fair to wonder what fans will get from them this season.
Oddsmakers certainly are not expecting much. DraftKings has them listed as +4000 to win the Super Bowl, +1800 to win the AFC, and +400 to win the division. They are not expected to make the playoffs (Yes +170, No -210), and their win total is a mediocre 8.5.
Even though they went 12-4 in the regular season last year and have won 9-plus games in the regular season for six of the last seven years, the over is not a good bet.
Yes, the team was great for most of the season last year. But once the Steelers’ fatal flaw became evident to their opponents, they were done. Ben Roethlisberger and the passing game tried to keep the team alive with a lot of help from the defense. But having the league’s worst run game was too much to overcome.
And with the moves (or lack of moves) made in the offseason, there is no reason to think it will be much better in 2021.
The offensive line could not open a running lane for James Conner last season. With Maurkice Pouncey retiring, Alejandro Villanueva moving on, and Conner finding a new home, there is no reason to believe the run game will be any better this season.
Defensively, the Steelers will be in good shape once again. The passing attack should be among the better ones in the league as well. However, if they cannot run the ball, they will struggle against one of the league’s most demanding schedules.
Nine of the Steelers’ games are against teams that won 11 or more games in 2020. Of the other seven, expectations are high for the Raiders and Chargers. Cincinnati’s offense has a world of potential, and the Vikings will not be an easy win in Week 14.
The Westgate has them favored in just eight games, with their Week 17 home game against the Browns as a pick ’em.
If the Westgate is right, then it looks like the smart bet regarding the Steelers win total is to take the under. However, with the team not doing much (or anything) to improve the roster, it is hard to see them winning eight.
That is unless a couple of guys emerge on the offensive line and become viable starters, and Najee Harris runs more like Derek Henry than Trent Richardson (but do not count on it).
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