The Pittsburgh Steelers were floundering on offense and looking for solutions when the Tennessee Titans came to Heinz Field in Week 11 of the 2017 NFL season for the Thursday Night Football showdown. Coming into that game, the Steelers had gone 1-8 for the season on the total and were scrounging to put points on the board. So what happened? Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 30 of 45 passes for 299 yards and four touchdowns, three of them to Antonio Brown, and the Steelers routed the Titans 40-17.
Most look back on that game as a turning point for the Pittsburgh offense. The Steelers went 5-2 over their next seven games, averaging 31.5 points per game, and they were 6-2 on the total. That 40-17 rout marked the 12th time in the last 16 Titans-Steelers games that the total had gone over, and dropped Tennessee to 2-5 straight up in the five visits to Pittsburgh. But the Titans do hold a 5-3 edge against the spread over the Steelers in their last eight meetings.
Road To Repeat – The Titans made the playoffs last season as an AFC wildcard team, the first time they’d been postseason participants since winning the division in 2008, and they won their first playoff game since 2003. For the Steelers, postseason play is old hat. They won their third successive AFC North title and participated in the playoffs for the fifth time in seven seasons. You have to go back to 1998-2000 to find the last time Pittsburgh was out of the playoffs for three successive seasons.
Bovada anticipates that streak will continue. They place the odds on the Steelers making the 2018 NFL playoffs at -550. The odds of them missing out are +375. Pittsburgh is also the chalk to retain the AFC North title at odds of -280. The Steelers are the second betting choice to win the AFC championship for the first time since 2010 at +400, and they are listed as the fourth betting choice to win the Super Bowl, something they haven’t done since Super Bowl XLIII, at +1000.
The odds on the Titans aren’t as solid. Bovada puts the moneyline on a 2018 Tennessee playoff appearance at +160. The Titans are given -200 odds of missing out on postseason action. Tennessee is +4500 to win the Super Bowl and +1600 to be AFC champions. As for the AFC South Division crown, Bovada puts the Titans down as the third betting choice to win the division title at odds of +325. Bet365 places the Titans as the co-seventh betting choice to win an AFC wildcard position this season at +350.
For Whom Bell Toils – Where running back Le’Veon Bell will be playing during the 2019 NFL season is anybody’s guess. Talks have broken off between Bell and the Steelers regarding a long-term deal. He’ll play under the franchise tag for the second straight season and that’s sprung the prop bets into action. Although Bell vowed via social media to Steelers fans that 2018 will be his best season ever, BetDSI is offering odds of -400 that Bell will sit out games this season for a non-injury related cause. It’s +700 that it won’t happen.
As for next season, BetDSI puts the odds at +600 that he opens the 2019 NFL regular season with the Steelers and -1000 that he does not. For the time being, Bell remains in Pittsburgh and the online sportsbooks seem to be taking him at his word that he will put up big numbers. Bovada has Bell at odds of +550 to lead the NFL in rushing, making him their second betting choice. You can get odds of +4000 from Bovada on Bell being the NFL MVP. Bet365 has Bell at +1000 to lead the NFL in touchdowns.
What Can Brown Do For You? – Well, maybe make you a lot of money if you wager on him to lead the NFL in receiving yardage again this season. Brown went for a league-leading 1533 yards last season, and Bovada likes his chances of catching fire again this season. He’s their chalk to lead the league in receiving yardage at +400. He’s not the only Steelers wideout available in the wagering, however. If you like longshots, Pittsburgh receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is situated at odds of +6600. He caught passes for 917 yards last season.
Big Ben’s Baggage – Bettors and sportsbooks alike appear to be at a quandary with which way to wager on Steelers QB Roethlisberger, because many feel that at the age of 36, he has arrived at a crossroads in his career and could be beginning a downturn in numbers. Though his yardage (4251) was up last season, so were his interceptions (14). Roethlisberger’s TD passes (28) and passer rating (93.4) were down from the previous season.
Bovada pegs Roethlisberger as their third betting option to lead the NFL in passing yards this season at +550, but they’ve also slotted in Big Ben as their second pick to lead the NFL in picks, also at +550. He was fourth overall in the latter category last season. Bovada gives Roethlisberger +3000 odds at winning the NFL’s MVP Award. And they’ve set him as their co-fifth betting choice to throw the most TD passes in the NFL at +900. Roethlisberger tied for fifth in the NFL in TD passes in 2017.
Mariota’s Mark – If you think it’s difficult to put a number on what Roethlisberger might throw up there this season, try getting a handle on the hot mess that is Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. Mariota was third in the NFL last season with 15 interceptions, and he was tied for 26th with 11 TD passes. Mariota’s 3232 yards through the air situated him 20th in the NFL. Any wonder that the Titans finished 23rd in the NFL in passing offense last season?
Surprisingly, Bovada slots Mariota in at +1400 to lead the NFL in interceptions and considering his numbers last season, those are some odds that might just be worth a play. Less shocking is that Mariota is set at odds of +7500 to lead the league in passing yards and +4000 to be the MVP. Bet365 puts Mariota at +3300 to lead the NFL in TD passes.