Oddsmakers are taking notes after the Steelers Week 1 win. Here’s why Pittsburgh opened as heavy favorites against the Denver Broncos in Week 2.
If the Steelers entered the seasons as underdogs, it won’t take long for that persona to go away. Though Ben Roethlisberger was playing his first game since tearing three tendons on his throwing elbow in Week 2 of 2019, the quarterback did more than what was expected of him on the road against the New York Giants.
But Ben wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player who stood out. Bud Dupree played like his hair was on fire Monday night, as he and the Steelers defensive line held Saquon Barkley 0.4 yards per carry on the game. Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt also pitched in to harass quarterback Daniel Jones.
Recently, oddsmakers set the lines for the Week 2 matchups in the NFL. Pittsburgh is set to play host to the Denver Broncos this Sunday, and Vegas is heavily favoring the Steelers in this contest. According to The Action Network, Pittsburgh opens the week as 7.5 point favorites over the Broncos.
Just three other teams are favored by more than what the Steelers are this week – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-9.5), the Tennesse Titans (-9.0), and the Kansas City Chiefs (-8.5).
Why the Steelers are heavy favorites
It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why Pittsburgh would be favored in this contest. The Steelers finished the 2019 sesaon with one of the best defensive units in NFL. They were the only team since the Super Bowl-winning Seahawks to boast three first-team All-Pro players on defense in the same year.
On the other side of the ball, Pittsburgh just got back their single most important piece in Ben Roethlisberger. Their 26-point game in the home opener would have tied the second-highest scoring output they had all season in 2019 – and this offense is just starting to scratch the surface.
Though Diontae Johnson struggled early in Week 1, he and other young Steelers weapons like Benny Snell, James Washington, and Chase Claypool flashed plenty of promise in the season opener. If they can get some chemistry down with Roethlisberger, this offense has a chance to be the NFL’s most improved unit in 2020.
For Denver, things did not go so well in their opening game. Despite hosting the Tennesse Titans, Drew Lock and the offense were able to muster up just 14 points in this contest, as Lock threw for just 216 yards and 1 touchdown. Though tight end Noah Fant had an impressive performance, it could be a struggle for Lock to find much success through the air early this season.
The Steelers season-opener was better than most analysts expected it to be. Their defense didn’t give an inch to New York’s rushing attack, and Pittsburgh’s offense slowly started to catch fire in the second half.
This line could certainly change between now and kickoff, but it’s not surprising to see the Steelers favored by 7.5 points after a very solid return from Ben Roethlisberger to the football field in Week 1.