by Mike Hayes - 01/27/2006
Less than a month ago the Steelers were barely a blip on the radar screen in terms of Super Bowl futures action. Now with the game a little more than a week away, the six-seeded AFC representative finds itself in the unlikely role of Super Bowl favorite.
Just a week ago the Steelers were the third choice of oddsmakers to win it all behind Denver and Seattle. Before the dust even settled following the Pittsburgh win at Denver and the Seahawks drubbing of Carolina, the Steelers were made a 4-point favorite over the Seattle, the top seed in the NFC.
The line does not surprise Greg Jorssen of Bodog, who said it was inevitable that the AFC rep in Detroit would be favored.
"The Steelers beat the Broncos, who a week ago were the No. 1 choice to win the Super Bowl. They proved their mettle by beating the Bengals, Colts and Broncos all on the road, thus deserving the favorite status." Jorssen said.
In addition, Jorssen said, as a member of the AFC the Steelers earned their 11-5 regular season mark against stiffer competition that the 13-3 Seahawks. "You have to look at not only post-season success but the entire season. The games they did lose were due primarily to key injuries, particularly at QB," Jorssen said. "On top of that, their schedule was the ninth most difficult this season compared to Seattle's schedule that was ranked dead last in terms of difficulty."
Even still, a look at Super Bowl futures at the beginning of the month showed the Steelers could be had at double-digit odds, with the Pats, Broncs, Bears and Panthers listed between them and the heavily favored Colts.
In fact, after the Colts were upset there was some debate as to whether Seattle rather than Denver should be the favorite to win it all in Detroit and some initial offerings had the Hawks as a slight choice over Denver.
It appears that the Steelers historic run (no six seed has advanced to the Super Bowl) has inspired confidence in oddsmakers and the wagering public as early wagering has so far supported the opening line. "I expect more Seattle money as the days progress, however it is clear that Pittsburgh is the clear favorite with the bettors right now," Jorssen said. "People love the underdog story and even though they are the favorite people still consider them the underdog, perhaps equating them to a No.12 seed knocking off a No. 5 in March Madness. Here is a six-seed that went on the road to beat the Bengals, the Colts and the Broncos. I don't think even Steelers fans would have (thought) that this was possible."
Also adding to the Pittsburgh appeal is the notion that they are a team of destiny. "You have the emotional factor as well with The Bus (Jerome Bettis) making its final journey to a city where it all began for him, hoping to come home and finalize a lifelong dream of being a Super Bowl Champion," Jorssen said. "People eat this stuff up and the early money that came in reflected that."
Cowboys coach Bill Parcells has often said "you are what your record says you are" and regardless of who was on the Seattle schedule the Seahawks entered the post season with a 13-3 mark and have dismantled their playoff opponents. "Seattle has been considered a pretender all season long and not given the respect I believe they deserve due to their schedule," Jorssen added. "Playing in the NFC West helped them for sure in terms of their record, but hurt them in regard to how they have been perceived."
Send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org