The Pittsburgh Steelers take center stage on Thursday night at the Hall of Fame Game. Kind of.
This won't be the Steelers team you'll see in Week 1. Most starters will be held out of the extra preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys. But it's a good time to check in on the Steelers for the 2021 season.
A lot of their success will revolve around the ability of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to look healthier than he did late last season.
Steelers win total: 8.5
Last season the Steelers started 11-0. It was against a light schedule, but winning 11 in a row in the NFL is hard no matter the opponents. There are two ways to look at the 2021 Steelers, in regards to this win total at BetMGM:
Over 8.5: This is a great defensive team, and a top-five defense provides a reliable floor for any team. Mike Tomlin has never posted a losing record. If the Steelers can fix the offensive line, Ben Roethlisberger might be good enough that there are no true holes on this roster. Roethlisberger did throw for 501 yards in that playoff loss last season, after all.
Under 8.5: Roethlisberger, off elbow reconstruction surgery, tailed off last season. He's 39 and there's no guarantee he'll look better at that age. The offensive line is also an issue, and that could be problematic with a quarterback who is nearing 40. On top of that, the Steelers face one of the toughest schedules in the NFL.
Which side do you buy into?
Super Bowl odds: +4000
Among all the teams down in that zone of Super Bowl odds — the Steelers are tied for 17th best odds at BetMGM — you can actually tell yourself a story about the Steelers making a deep playoff run. Maybe Ben Roethlisberger does look better another offseason removed from elbow surgery. If the Steelers have some answers on the offensive line and Ben is healthy, this team does have a pretty high ceiling.
Best prop bet: Diontae Johnson receiving yards
The Steelers want to run the ball more, and assuming they won't play at a breakneck pace, that means fewer passes. That means I'll look for unders on Steelers pass catchers, and Johnson has the highest total at 975.5. Johnson is a good player, though his issues with drops are a problem and could eventually get him benched. If the Steelers' quarterback play doesn't rebound, it'll be tough for the offense to support three good receivers. I think an under bet on Chase Claypool (900.5) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (800.5) could also cash, but Johnson is the best under bet among them.