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If there's one non-contender from last season the public seems to love in 2020, it's the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Head coach Mike Tomlin is no stranger to success, having taken the franchise to the playoffs every season from 2014-17. But after an 8-8 campaign in which not a whole lot went right, the Steelers enter 2020 looking to avoid missing the postseason for a third straight year.
Can Tomlin and Co. right the ship, or will they fall short yet again in an improving AFC North?
Let's dive into Pittsburgh's win total for the 2020 season and make the case for both sides.
|How many games will the Steelers win in 2020?||Odds|
If there's any consolation after a disappointing 2019, it's that the offense cannot possibly be worse than it was last year.
These were the league's bottom five DVOA offenses in 2019 when all was said and done:
|Team||Offense DVOA %||NFL Rank|
Roethlisberger has always been a gunslinger, even as he's grown older. The 38-year-old has registered at least 7.0 yards per attempt every year in 15 seasons as a primary starter.
Neither backup was a logical fit for Pittsburgh's offense. Hodges was ultraconservative, finishing with 6.6 yards per attempt and 5.0 adjusted yards per attempt, while Rudolph completed just 25% of his deep passes.
In turn, it set back the supporting cast.
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster battled injuries and posted nearly 1,000 yards fewer than he did in 2018. Running back James Conner was also banged up and saw his scrimmage yards plummet from 1,470 to 715. Young wideouts James Washington and Diontae Johnson were both solid in spurts, but they would've made more progress with Roethlisberger orchestrating the offense.
The Steelers are strong up front. PFF graded the offensive line as the ninth-best unit in football heading into 2020. The skill corps, meanwhile, is young and dynamic. Smith-Schuster, Conner, Washington, and Johnson are all 25 or younger, but it was evident last season that they desperately need a veteran presence under center.
If QB1 is back to full health, the unit should run like a well-oiled machine.
Any way you slice it, over bettors will like Pittsburgh's schedule, too. Based on their opponents' combined win-loss record from last year, the Steelers have the second-easiest path in football; if we instead use their opponents' combined win total for the coming season, they have the eighth-easiest path.
I said there were few concerns on defense, not none. Though Pittsburgh was one of the best defensive teams in the NFL last season, it enjoyed some serious luck: The Steelers recorded a league-high 38 takeaways, which certainly isn't sustainable on a year-to-year basis.
Over bettors can trust Tomlin; he has yet to post a losing record in 13 seasons with the Steelers.
I'd be optimistic about investing in this club. There are very few weak links across a depth chart that was operating far below full strength in 2019.
With Roethlisberger returning to a high-upside offense, a formidable defense that remains intact, and one of the league's softest schedules, the Steelers are one of the best over bets on the board this year.
(Odds source: theScore Bet).
Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 12 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AJKolodziej.