Suddenly, the AFC North Division is in Play for Bettors
Football betting weeks feel like dog years in 2020. Just three weeks ago, we were talking about the Pittsburgh Steelers as possible undefeated Super Bowl champions.
They were 11-0, the top seed in the AFC, and the only team with a chance to complete the NFL’s first perfect season since 1972.
Now, three losses later, the AFC North title is back up for grabs. Gone is the top seed, as that now almost assuredly belongs to Kansas City.
And, in the division, the Cleveland Browns – the Cleveland Browns that haven’t been in the postseason since 2002 – can still catch the Steelers.
What a turn of events.
What Happened to Pittsburgh?
The problem in Pittsburgh is relatively simple to diagnose. The offense has disappeared.
Even before their last victory, a 19-14 win over the shorthanded Ravens, scoring points has been a slog. Monday night’s loss to Cincinnati was the fourth straight game in which Pittsburgh failed to score more than 20 points.
It’s killing the Steelers’ postseason plans, and also those of sports betting fans who have had the misfortune of betting on Pittsburgh. For the fourth straight game, the Steelers failed to cover the spread.
Ben Roethlisberger carries much of the blame. He’s turned the ball over five times during the three-game losing streak, compared to just five touchdowns. He no longer trusts his receivers (who have dropped more passes than any other team by a country mile), and it shows.
In each of the last two weeks, he’s failed to break 200 yards. And, since the offense disappeared four weeks ago, the Steelers have also rushed for the following abysmal totals: 68, 21, 47, and 86 yards.
Remaining Schedule for Pittsburgh
Up next for the Steelers on a short week is a game at home against Indianapolis. The Colts have won three straight and five of their last six (the only blemish an overtime loss to Green Bay) and have one of the best run defenses in the NFL.
So, for Pittsburgh to win that game and stop the bleeding, the onus will be on Roethlisberger.
The Colts also have plenty of incentive as they remain just one game ahead of the Dolphins and Ravens and could still miss the playoffs.
The Colts (-1.5) are the early sportsbook favorite.
Remaining Schedule for Cleveland
Up next for the Browns is a game at the New York Jets. Yes, the Jets are now on a winning streak (LOL!). But no, this game should not be a problem for Cleveland.
Baker Mayfield is in a rhythm; the Browns boast the best running back tandem in the NFL; and with a possible division title still in reach, this team will be focused.
That sets us up for what could be the best game of Week 17. If the Colts beat the Steelers, as they are favored to do, and the Browns beat the Jets, as they are favored to do, both teams will enter their end-of-season game on Jan. 3 in Cleveland tied up at 11-4.
We’ve all had our fill of 2020. But if we can get that game to begin 2021, surely it will be a sign of a great year to come.