2018 Pittsburgh Steelers Road Schedule Odds with Expert Picks and Predictions
Ben Roethlisberger is the greatest quarterback in Steelers history - yes, Terry Bradshaw has won two more Super Bowl rings, but the overall statistics aren't close - and is a first-ballot Hall of Famer someday.
But, man, is Big Ben starting to sound like a whiner, and I know more than a few Steelers fans who are tired of his act. For the past couple of years, Roethlisberger has hinted at retiring. He wasn't sure if his heart was in it any longer, that he didn't want the physical punishment, etc. My take? He's a diva who likes the attention. Do you hear Aaron Rodgers talk like this? Tom Brady never used to until this offseason.
Perhaps Big Ben just wanted the fans' love or a raise, but clearly the Steelers grew tired of his annual waffling as well because they selected Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, considered a borderline first-round talent, with their third-round pick in this year's draft. So what was Roethlisberger's reaction to that pick?
"I was surprised when they took a quarterback because I thought that maybe in the third round, you know you can get some really good football players that can help this team now," Roethlisberger said. "Nothing against Mason. I just don't know how backing up or being a third [string] -- well, who knows where he's going to fall on the depth chart -- helps us win now. … If they think he can help our team, so be it, but I was a little surprised."
Way to welcome the rookie and potentially your future replacement to the team! That's just not good leadership. I believe that was a smart move by the Steelers to take Rudolph. Roethlisberger, naturally, now says he wants to play at least three more years, but he's 36 and has played all 16 regular-season games just three times. He was still very good in 2017 but had a couple of games - like a five-pick effort in a blowout regular-season loss to Jacksonville - where you could perhaps see the finish line.
This could well be the last year as a Steeler for Le'Veon Bell. The team slapped the franchise tag on him for a second straight offseason, and it's just not financially feasible to do it a third time next offseason. Unless Bell lands his long-term deal by this summer, he's going to hit free agency and some team will break the bank for him.
Pittsburgh was 7-1 on the road last season (tied for NFL best), 4-4 against the spread and 1-7 "over/under." The Steelers travel to just two playoff teams in 2018, which is the best you can ask for: Jacksonville and New Orleans and neither until the second half of the year. The home schedule is much tougher. I project the Steelers to go 5-3 on the road. Odds listed for the home team.
Sept. 9 at Browns (+7, 48): Will it be Baker Mayfield or Tyrod Taylor under center for Cleveland? Probably won't matter as Roethlisberger take personal satisfaction in beating the Browns and almost always does. Although, both were close last year, with Pittsburgh also visiting the Land in Week 1 and winning 21-18. Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes to tight end Jesse James. Key trend: Steelers 2-3 ATS as at least a 7-point favorite at Browns.
Sept. 24 at Bucs (+4): Monday night. Not a great time to visit Tampa as it will still surely be very hot and humid. Pittsburgh leads the all-time series 8-2 but lost at home in 2014. The Steelers' last Super Bowl victory was in Tampa, 27-23 over Arizona in XLIII on Feb. 1, 2009. Key trend: Steelers 5-2-1 ATS at NFC South teams.
Oct. 14 at Bengals (+4): Ahead of Pittsburgh's bye week. The Steelers have won eight of their past nine games at Paul Brown Stadium since 2010. Last year, it was 23-20 in Week 13 on a Monday night - a game the Bengals led 17-0 late in the second quarter. Antonio Brown tied it 20-20 on a 6-yard TD catch with 3:51 and then Chris Boswell hit a 38-yard field goal as time expired. Key trend: Steelers 7-2-1 ATS in past 10 as at least a 3-point road favorite in series.
Nov. 4 at Ravens (pick'em): Ahead of a quick turnaround home game in Week 10 vs. Carolina. Pittsburgh rarely wins in Baltimore but did handily in Week 4 last season, 26-9, the Steelers' first win there since 2012. Bell rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Key trend: Steelers 6-4 ATS in past 10 at Ravens.
Nov. 18 at Jaguars (+1): Sunday night, with the Steelers on extra rest off their Week 10 matchup vs. the Panthers. Pittsburgh's defense was gashed twice by Jacksonville last year, both in Pittsburgh. The Jags won 30-9 in Week 5 as Big Ben had those five picks and threatened to retire. The AFC Divisional Round game was a wild 45-42 Jaguars win because, of course, we all expected 87 points to be scored. Key trend: Steelers 3-7 ATS in past 10 at Jaguars.
Nov. 25 at Broncos (+3): The only case of the season where Pittsburgh is away in back-to-back weeks. The Steelers have dropped four of their past five in Denver, last 23-16 in the Divisional Round following the 2015 season when Peyton Manning was still the Broncos' QB. Key trend: Steelers 5-4-1 ATS in past 10 as dog in Denver (including playoffs).
Dec. 9 at Raiders (+3.5): Sunday night and ahead of a mammoth Week 15 matchup vs. the Patriots. Could be Pittsburgh's last-ever trip to Oakland with the move to Las Vegas. The Steelers are quite comfortable under the lights, winning seven straight prime-time games. They last played the Raiders in 2015 and won 38-35 at home. Key trend: Steelers are 0-3 SU & ATS in past three in Oakland.
Dec. 23 at Saints (-1): Pittsburgh's only dome game of the year. Quite likely the final meeting between future Hall of Famers in Roethlisberger and Drew Brees. Certainly possible the teams could meet in the Super Bowl. The Steelers have lost three of past four in the series, including most recent trip to Big Easy in 2010. Key trend: Steelers 6-3-1 ATS in past 10 as road dog anywhere.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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