Game Lines Go Up 4 Months In Advance Making Steelers And Eagles Underdogs In Openers

The just-released schedule shows Pittsburgh with toughest foes in the NFL and Philadelphia with the weakest, based on 2020 records.
early bird

Uh oh, there’s less than four months now to the NFL season opener for both the Steelers and Eagles — let the line shopping begin!

Betting on individual football games so far in advance might sound ludicrous to some — who knows who gets hurt, replaced, traded, acquired, etc.? — but Pennsylvania’s online sportsbooks are ready to take bettors’ action, just the same.

The NFL released the 2021 schedule Wednesday showing that on Sunday, Sept. 12, the Steelers open in Buffalo and the Eagles visit Atlanta, and it didn’t take long for the books to post the two in-state teams as underdogs.

The season openers are the only individual games under the new 17-game format on which wagers can yet be placed, but the betting sites have plenty of futures options for the teams’ overall performance during the season.

In a Keystone State twist of scheduling fate, the Steelers have the most difficult schedule in 2021 and the Eagles the easiest among the 32 teams, based on win-loss records in 2020, according to CBS Sports. The Steelers’ opponents had a combined winning percentage of .574 and the Eagles’ foes won at just a .430 clip.

Unlike last year, the cross-state rivals will not meet in the coming season unless they make it to the Super Bowl. A little unnecessary advice: Do not bet on that occurring unless you can get appropriate odds of 1,000,000/1 or longer.

Steelers’ tough schedule starts just that way

The Steelers, by virtue of being the first-place finisher in the tough AFC North last season, are stuck with a schedule that pits them with 10 games against playoff teams from last year. That includes three of the four teams from the conference championship games, starting with the Bills.

At this early stage, the Bills are about a touchdown favorite. The Steelers can be bet as underdogs of as much as 6.5 points at FanDuel and BetMGM, while Caesars has the closest point spread at 5.5.

A moneyline bet on Pittsburgh can return as much as +225 at BetMGM. A points total over/under is also already available, ranging from 50.5 to 51.

The sportsbooks know that the Steelers have a tough road ahead in what is likely to be Ben Roethlisberger’s last season at quarterback, as their Super Bowl odds have gotten even longer than they were a couple of weeks ago. Those odds range from 35/1 at FOX Bet to 50/1 at BetMGM.

All of the sites have the Steelers over/under on season wins set at 8.5, but FanDuel has the best vig for that at -105. The best return for a wager on them to make the playoffs is +170, at FanDuel again and also on the sites using Kambi odds (DraftKings, BetRivers, PlaySugarHouse, Unibet, Barstool, Parx, and TwinSpires).

Eagles’ schedule: consolation prize for last season

The Eagles’ disappointing 2020 performance did reward them in a scheduling sense, at least. Not only will they again play six games against opponents in what was the NFL’s weakest division, but they are matched against most of the lower-tier teams in other divisions.

Of their 17 games, five are against playoff teams, only three of whom had winning records: the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Kansas City Chiefs. Their Thursday Night Football game hosting the Super Bowl champion Bucs in Week 6 is one of their two prime time contests before a national audience, along with a Week 3 game vs. the rival Dallas Cowboys.

For the opener against the Falcons, most sites have Philadelphia as a 3.5-point underdog, though Caesars is offering Eagles backers 4 points. Caesars also offers the best moneyline return for a Philly victory, at +170. The o/u for the opener is set at 46.5 to 47.5.

None of the sites offers the Eagles better than a 70/1 chance of winning the Super Bowl. The best option for someone betting that longshot to come in is the 85/1 at FanDuel.

FanDuel is the best site to use as well for an Eagles fan betting on them to go “over” on their season win total. All of the sites offer 6.5 as the o/u, but the FanDuel vig of -130 for that — while itself hefty — is the least among the sportsbooks.

For those wanting to bet the “yes” on Philadelphia to make the playoffs, the best payout, +280, also comes from FanDuel.


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