You Can Bet Openers For Eagles And Steelers As Favorites, Four Months Ahead

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The NFL schedule is out, early point spreads are up, and now it’s just a question of whether bettors want to tie up money for games four months away that are still surrounded by uncertainty.

The Eagles have opened as a 5-point to 6-point favorite for their opener, visiting the Washington Redskins on Sept. 13.

The Steelers are also a road favorite the first week, with a nationally televised Monday night game Sept. 14 against the New York Giants. Pittsburgh is favored by 3 to 3.5 points among the nine online sports betting sites available in Pennsylvania.

The NFL released its 16-game regular season schedule for all teams Thursday night, despite the uncertainty surrounding society’s ability by late summer to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

League officials are hoping that by then, the teams will be able to play all of their home games in stadiums filled with thousands of fans. Commissioner Roger Goodell told the teams that for now, he doesn’t want them addressing “what if” hypotheticals related to the pandemic.

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“We will be prepared to make adjustments as necessary,” he stated.

More bets available on Eagles than Steelers

Online sportsbooks weeks ago began posting odds on the planned games, even without knowing the dates of the contests. The NFL had previously announced the opponents each team would face based on last year’s records, but not the scheduled dates.

Friday morning, with the dates now available, the sites actually were offering fewer games for betting than they had the day before — though the number of options varied with each site and with each team.

FanDuel and BetAmerica, for instance, each posted point spreads for 10 Eagles contests but just three Steelers games.

FOX Bet, Caesars, and the Kambi-supported sites that include DraftKings, Unibet, BetRivers, Play Sugarhouse, and Parx all had lines for just the first week for both Pennsylvania teams.

None of the sites had yet posted lines for exhibition games, which are scheduled to begin Aug. 6 for the Steelers vs. Dallas in Canton, Ohio, and a week later for the Eagles visiting the Colts.

Eagles and Steelers fans have one game of common interest: an Oct. 11 meeting of the two Pennsylvania teams at Heinz Field. FanDuel and BetAmerica both make the Steelers a 1.5-point favorite in that one, at this early stage.

Can Eagles win 10 or more games?

The Eagles are listed as favorites in the majority of games for which their odds are available, starting with the opener vs. the Redskins.

They are the biggest favorite (-8) in their third game on Sept. 27, an intriguing one because they will be hosting the Cincinnati Bengals with No. 1 overall draft choice Joe Burrow expected to start at quarterback.

They are also favorites hosting the Rams (-4.5), Giants (-7.5), Cowboys (-3), and Seahawks (-2.5) and visiting the Giants (-4).

Philadelphia is an underdog thus far visiting not only the Steelers but the 49ers (+5.5) and Browns (+1) and hosting the Ravens (+2.5).

Overall, the Eagles are expected to be a strong team, based on the futures options all of the sites began posting soon after the Super Bowl in February.

Their over/under on wins is set at 9.5 by all of the sites, though there is some variability on the vig. FOX Bet makes an over-9.5 bet an even-money proposition, while other sites set it at -105 or -110.

Most sites make the Eagles 20/1 to win the Super Bowl and 10/1 to win the NFC title. They are predicted to finish behind the Cowboys in their division, with +140 the common number for them to win the NFC East.

More questions surround the Steelers

In addition to showing up as favorites in their opener with the Giants and the October intrastate rivalry contest, the Steelers are favored hosting the Browns in Week 2 in their only other game with odds posted as of Friday morning. FanDuel had Pittsburgh -4.5 and BetAmerica made the team a 5-point favorite vs. Cleveland.

The sites show more variability predicting the Steelers’ season than is the case with the Eagles, perhaps due to so much uncertainty in how veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will fare after missing nearly all of the 2019 season.

The over/under on Pittsburgh’s win total ranges from as high as 9.5 at FOX Bet (though at -133 on the under) to as low as 8.5 at DraftKings and the other Kambi sites. FanDuel, Caesars, and BetAmerica all settled on 9 as the best number.

The Steelers’ Super Bowl odds range from 28/1 at Caesars and the Kambi sites to 24/1 with FanDuel. They are anywhere from 14/1 (Kambi) to 9/1 (Caesars) to win the AFC, with others in-between.

And Pittsburgh is ranked well behind the Ravens in the AFC North. The majority of sites have them +350 to win the division.

How about a rematch in February for PA teams?

The sites also have numerous individual player prop bets available, whether to win awards or finish over or under a certain number of yards or TDs.

Eagles QB Carson Wentz is listed among candidates for league MVP, with the best price for bettors being 30/1 at the Kambi sites. They have Roethlisberger at 50/1.

Roethlisberger remains a favorite for the AP’s Comeback Player of the Year Award, but he has some new competition from Rob Gronkowski, who has come out of retirement to join old buddy Tom Brady in Tampa Bay.

FanDuel and FOX Bet have Roethlisberger the No. 1 choice for the award (+250 and +275, respectively) and Gronk No. 2, but the Kambi sites reverse it, making the big tight end +300 and Big Ben +400.

For those with special Pennsylvania interest, FOX Bet is trying to make things the most tantalizing at this stage. It already has a Week 1 “boost” where the Eagles can be bet at -3 instead of the regular -6 line.

And for those out there who think it’s worth risking a few dollars on Philadelphia and Pittsburgh meeting in an unprecedented all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl, FOX Bet’s very special line is very easy to remember: 100/1.

Photo by Shutterstock.com

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Gary Rotstein

Gary is a longtime journalist, having spent three decades covering gambling, state government, and other issues for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in addition to stints as managing editor of the Bedford (Pa.) Gazette and as a reporter for United Press International and the Middletown (Conn.) Press. Contact Gary at [email protected].

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