The Pittsburgh Steelers are distant fourth place in odds to win the AFC North, but here’s why the gap is closer than oddsmakers think.
The Steelers had just about as much turnover on offense as any team in the NFL this offseason. The most notable change is the one they have at the starting quarterback position. After his press conference this week, Mike Tomlin seems very confident in what he has seen from Mitch Trubisky this summer and he will be the starter, as expected.
Despite all of the changes the Steelers underwent this past offseason, it’s remarkable to see them in a distant last place when it comes to divisional odds just before the start of the NFL season. According to odds from FanDuel Sportsbook, Pittsburgh is just +950 to win the AFC North this year.
Unsurprisingly, the Baltimore Ravens (+145) and Cincinnati Bengals (+165) have the best odds to claim the divisional title this year. However, I’m puzzled as to why the Clevland Browns have much better odds than the Steelers to do so. They sit at +400 to win the AFC North just ahead of the 2022 season, via Fanduel.
While the Pittsburgh Steelers shouldn’t be the team deemed most likely to win their division this year, should their odds be as low as they are?
Steelers odds should be much better to win the AFC North
Considering that Pittsburgh finished 9-7-1 last season and was just one game away from claiming the AFC North, I can’t figure out why their odds are so low to win the division this year. While their DVOA and team rankings suggested they weren’t as good as their record indicated, Mike Tomlin is no stranger to coming away with victories in close contests, and it’s possible they could be fortunate in that regard again this year.
What really has me scratching my head is the fact that Cleveland’s odds are significantly better. Do oddsmakers remember that Deshaun Watson is suspended for the first 11 games of the 2022 season? Do they think that Jacoby Brissett will do enough to keep their heads above water?
Personally, I’m not a believer in the Browns this year. Perhaps that will change once Watson comes back, but by that time, the damage could already be done. In the meantime, their QB situation is worse than Pittsburgh’s in my opinion, and I trust Trubisky to at least be more impressive than a pedestrian Brissett.
On paper, the Steelers improved at nearly every position this offseason. Their Achilles heel could obviously be their offense line — a unit that struggled mightily during the preseason this year. However, their defense could jump back up to one of the top units in the league this year.
While Pittsburgh doesn’t have the same impressive running game that Cleveland possesses, the hope is that Najee Harris could take that leap in efficiency in year two. What the Steelers do have, however, are much more impressive young options in the passing game which should help expand their offensive upside this year.
At +950 odds to win the AFC North, this is worth putting a few bucks on — considering the payout. The Pittsburgh Steelers are going to have a very tough road to a division title, but it’s still within the realm of possibility. I think this should be a three-way race with the Browns sitting squarely at the bottom.