The Eagles and Steelers return to competition against other teams instead of their own players this weekend, and as is customary with preseason contests, you don’t see either wide point spreads or high point totals for their games.
Philadelphia hosts the New York Jets Friday night in a game viewed so evenly that a couple of Pennsylvania’s online sportsbooks make it a pick’em. That’s even though in the regular season, the Eagles would clearly be favored.
At Pittsburgh’s renamed Acrisure Stadium, meanwhile, the Steelers take on the Seattle Seahawks Saturday night in a matchup that could have bearing on not one but two — count ‘em, two — quarterback battles after the end of long tenures by star QBs with both franchises.
The sportsbooks have the Steelers as about a field goal favorite in that one.
The only predictable thing about these opening games for Pennsylvania’s teams, however, is just how unpredictable they can be, based on all of the time to be spent on the field by second-stringers, third-stringers, and guys who don’t have a prayer of being at the game without a ticket when Nick Sirianni and Mike Tomlin pare rosters to start playing for real on Sept. 11.
But it’s televised football, featuring home teams to root for, with all kinds of betting options, which is something fans of Pennsylvania’s NFL teams haven’t been able to enjoy since January. So we’ve got that going for us, along with the odds listed below.
All things being equal in Philly …
In last year’s preseason, the Eagles and Jets played in unusually explosive action to a 31-31 tie. Don’t expect that to happen again. The oddsmakers don’t, at least, and they’re often pretty smart.
Those pick’em lines were being offered Thursday morning by DraftKings and Caesars. Most sites made the Eagles the slightest of favorites, ranging from a half-point at FOX Bet and PointsBet to 1.5 points at BetRivers, Unibet, Barstool, and other books using odds supplied by Kambi.
Most sites offered a moneyline price of -110 on the Eagles to win, and the over/under points total was consistently 35.5.
How many points will be scored has a lot to do, of course, with quarterback play, and neither Jalen Hurts nor Jets second-year QB Zach Wilson should expect to see action for much more than a quarter. Both coaches have made it pretty clear that their starters will likely see one or two series of action, which is typical for a preseason opener.
— Eagles Nation (@PHLEaglesNation) August 10, 2022
That leaves the Eagles depending on veteran Gardner Minshew and whatever time Sirianni allots to Reid Sinnett and Carson Strong, both of them untested in the NFL and likely competing to remain on the roster as the third quarterback.
Fans at Lincoln Financial Field will recognize one more signal-caller on the field in 37-year-old Joe Flacco, although he will be in a Jets uniform instead of the Eagles colors he wore briefly in 2021 as Hurts’ backup. He’s now the veteran presence behind Wilson, and another Jets backup, Mike White, can also be expected to play.
No Ben, no Russ, and only modest hopes
So, in Pittsburgh, no Ben Roethlisberger for the first time since 2003, and in Seattle, no Russell Wilson for the first time since 2011. The end of their eras leaves a little less optimism, perhaps, for both proud franchises and their success-accustomed fans in 2022.
Most Wins First 9 Seasons of their Career in NFL History:
Russell Wilson 93
Peyton Manning 92
Tom Brady 87
Ben Roethlisberger 87 pic.twitter.com/4a7QI6vd4q
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) November 20, 2020
The Steelers have a triumvirate of quarterbacks who all have hopes of seeing significant playing time this year, and they will likely play Saturday night in the same order as they appear listed on the depth chart: one-time Chicago Bears castoff Mitch Trubisky, returning backup Mason Rudolph, and first-round draft pick Kenny Pickett.
As for the Seahawks, they’ve got a duel between Geno Smith, who was Wilson’s backup after playing for multiple teams, and Drew Lock, who was acquired from the Denver Broncos as part of the Wilson trade. Smith is to be the starter Saturday, though nothing’s clear about just how long he and Lock will each play.
The sportsbooks are pretty evenly divided on whether to favor the Steelers by 3.5 points or just 3. For a Steelers backer, the latter number could be found with standard -110 vig Thursday at BetMGM, Caesars, and Betfred, with FanDuel inflating that price to -115.
The best outlets for a Steelers moneyline bet were Caesars, at -150, and BetMGM, at -155, as others went to -160 or above. The lowest points total was 35.5 at BetMGM, while DraftKings and BetRivers were among books going as high as 36.5.
As to futures bets, the Eagles are projected to finish second behind the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East — with +185 from FanDuel the best payoff for a bet on them to win the division — and the Steelers are widely pegged at the bottom of the AFC North. A successful bet on them to win the division would net a 10/1 return from DraftKings or PointsBet.
Photo: Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com/USA TODAY