2008 Pittsburgh Steelers AFC North Predictions July 7th, 2008
By: NFL Handicapping Staff
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NFL Pro Football Futures Betting – Pittsburgh Steeling Division?
Our best Sportsbooks has its NFL odds up for winning the Super Bowl, as well as each of the NFL’s eight divisions and two conferences. The winner of that Super Bowl from three seasons ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6 SU, 8-8 ATS) go into their third year under Mike Tomlin with a lot of optimism. Is that optimism warranted? That’s the situation we will examine today.
First let’s look at the odds to win the AFC and AFC North divisions, as they appear in Our best Sportsbooks:
BetUS NFL Futures Odds
To Win AFC North
PITTSBURGH STEELERS – Even
Cleveland Browns +175
Cincinnati Bengals +450
Baltimore Ravens +850
To win the AFC Championship
New England Patriots +180
San Diego Chargers +450
Indianapolis Colts +500
Jacksonville Jaguars +800
PITTSBURGH STEELERS +1200
Cleveland Browns +1600
Tennessee Titans +2200
Denver Broncos +2200
Cincinnati Bengals +3000
Baltimore Ravens +2500
Houston Texans +3500
Buffalo Bills +3500
New York Jets +3500
Miami Dolphins +8000
Kansas City Chiefs +6000
Oakland Raiders +4000
The Steelers overcame losing four of their last five games to win the division title, and come into this season having lost a pillar off its offensive line, as Alan Faneca left for the Jets as a free agent. Chris Kemoeatu is the player who will replace him; to see what this does to the overall competency of the front line remains to be seen. One thing is for sure – the addition of Rashard Mendenhall, a first-round draft pick out of Illinois, is going to ease the burden that Willie Parker, the incumbent running back, has to carry.
Another draft choice, Texas’ Limas Sweed, is going to slide into a wide receiver position right underneath Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward, and that will quite possibly make this offense more dynamic for Ben Roethlisberger, who rebounded from a tough season caused by many incidents, including his motorcycle accident, to set a Steeler record for passing yards.
Last year the Pittsburgh defense was sensational, at least on paper, as it allowed the least amount of yards in the league. They were third best in the league against both the run and the pass, which gives you an indication of how much balance there is in this unit. Casey Hampton is obviously a great anchor of the defensive line, but it is the linebacker corps that is particularly outstanding. James Farrior and James Harrison are game-changers, and LaMarr Woodley is a very useful pass rusher. Troy Polamalu is a Pro Bowl player at the safety position, although he had a painful season with injuries. And depth is a problem, because the reserves can be beaten deep.
The Steelers are one of those teams that has a decided home field advantage over the opponent – in fact, for all foes not named Jacksonville, Pittsburgh’s stop unit limited the other team to just nine points per game at Heinz Field last season. This team will need to continue that, because a lot of the road games have been rough, including losses to the Jets, Cardinals and Broncos.
Pittsburgh should be one of those teams that reaches the playoffs, but it may well be through the wild card route, With Cleveland having actually tied them for the division title last season, and then improving with key player additions, the torch may pass to the upwardly-mobile Browns. But the Men of Steel will be right in it to the end, and can make some noise in the post-season once they get there.
JAY’S PREDICTION FOR 2008:
Pittsburgh Steelers — 10-6, 2nd place, AFC North
(Even money to win division, +1200 to win AFC, +1800 to win Super Bowl in the Top Sportsbooks NFL futures betting odds)
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