NFL’s best home underdog: Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers were a bettor’s dream as home underdogs last season, going 3-0 against the spread. However, will they have similar success in those situations in 2020?
- Ben Roethlisberger missed most of the 2019 season, which made the Steelers more likely to be underdogs at Heinz Field last season.
- Pittsburgh’s defense was largely overlooked last season, keeping games low-scoring and allowing the Steelers to beat the Rams and Browns as home underdogs.
- With Roethlisberger healthy, oddsmakers should have more faith in the Steelers at home, although home games with the Texans, Eagles, and Ravens could give Pittsburgh more chances to excel as a home underdog.
Big Ben Missing
Under normal circumstances, the Steelers would rarely be underdogs at home. Not only is Pittsburgh one of the top teams in the AFC year after year, but Heinz Field is also one of the toughest places to play for visiting teams. However, Ben Roethlisberger being lost to injury early in the season threw a wrench in the whole operation. With unreliable backups Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges playing quarterback for Pittsburgh, oddsmakers who are setting the NFL lines lost faith in the Steelers. Ordinarily, Pittsburgh would have been favored at home against both the Rams and Browns. But without Roethlisberger, they were home underdogs in those games. The same was true when they hosted the Ravens, who had already established themselves as the team to beat in the AFC North. Somehow though week after week the Steelers were able to cover the spread and finished the year in the top 10 against the spread. Surprising as it may be the Steelers were the biggest home dog of 2019, which makes them one of the best NFL picks against the spread, so it will be interesting to see with some of their firepower back this season if they can repeat.
Don’t Overlook the Defense
The Steelers might have had the most overlooked defense in the NFL last year. Despite big problems on offense, Pittsburgh allowed less than 19 points per game in 2019. The defense was particularly stout at home games. The high-flying Ravens were held to just 26 points in Week 5, albeit in a game Pittsburgh lost despite beating the spread. Meanwhile, the Rams and Browns were held to 12 and 13 points, respectively, in games where the Steelers were home underdogs, leading Pittsburgh to vital wins.
A Little More Faith
With Roethlisberger on track to return to the field in 2020, odds are the Steelers aren’t going to be home underdogs three times in 2020. That being said, there’s no guarantee Roethlisberger will be his old self. Pittsburgh also has difficult home games against the Texans, Eagles, and Ravens. All three were playoff teams last year and could potentially be favored when they visit Heinz Field. However, with the Steelers bringing back most of their key players on defense, they will remain a good option for bettors if they are a home underdog at any point in 2020.