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As the 2009 NFL preseason quickly approaches, we have been analyzing each of the NFL divisions and individual teams, looking for betting value on the NFL future odds board. The betting volume on the NFL future odds with online sportsbook has been increasing steadily the last week or so, as more NFL news and attention is focused on the league with training camps about to start.
Today we look at the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers. They are coming off a 12-4 record in 2008, managing to be barely profitable betting them against the spread, as they posted a 9-7 ATS mark.
An interesting storyline is breaking today related to star QB Ben Roethlisberger, who has been named in a sexual assault case brought by a Nevada women. What impact could this looming legal issue have on Roethlisberger’s performance heading into the new season? Hard to tell obviously, but a few bettors appear to be willing to risk that it will negatively impact the team.
Popular online sportsbook SPORTSBETTING.com saw wagering action that looks like it was triggered by the news. SPORTSBETTING.com betting analyst Mike Sullivan said they saw a flurry of money come in on the Baltimore Ravens to “Win the AFC Central Division” as the story broke and started to gain momentum. As well, bettors weighed in on the “Under” 10.5 wins on the NFL future odds offer of the “Season Win Total” for the Steelers.
That aside, the Steelers head into 2009 looking pretty healthy...in fact they could be better than last year. After a quiet off-season, which is always a good thing for a team off a Super Bowl win things were looking good. But then this Big Ben legal situation jumped up. Remember the last time the Steelers won the big game and the off-season they endured that year? Bill Cowher stepped down, Jerome Bettis retired, a helmet-less Roethlisberger drove his motorcycle into a car and broke his jaw and Santonio Holmes was arrested. The result was a dreadful campaign the next year.
But this year, the offensive starters are back and they’ve added Rashard Mendenhall, who should be a playmaker. The one key item that needs to be highlighted is the fact this offensive line is going to be much better this season. Remember, last year four of the five O-lineman were playing their positions for the first time. It’s why the O-line was the big weakness in 2008. That won’t be the case in 2009.
Defensively...well, defensively they’re going to be very difficult to face again in 2009. They have a front seven that 90% of the league can only dream of having. The secondary is strong vs. the run, but can be exposed if a team gets a chance to go after them through the air. However, few opponents will have the chance to drop back and pick this unit apart, as the Steelers are so good at getting pressure.
And they get an easier schedule in 2009, as compared to one of the toughest in the league last year.
Looking at the NFL Gambling odds for Super Bowl, Conference Championship and Division winner, Pittsburgh is near, or at the top of all them.
Check the updated NFL Lines
I expect the Steelers to win the AFC North and while I likely won’t put a bet in on this one, I do see them winning 11 games or more, which means they would go “Over” their posted odds for Season Win Total. I’m not betting it as I just don’t quite see enough value in a number that high with this team.
AFC North Odds
Cleveland Browns 11 - 1
Cincinnati Bengals 10 - 1
Baltimore Ravens 16 - 5
Pittsburgh Steelers 2 – 5