Calling all bettors! The 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers averaged their fewest points per game since 1998. They’ve endured a net negative point differential in back-to-back years for the first time since 1989. How dramatically might they improve in 2023 in their quest for a Super Bowl title? More pressingly, how will free agency and the upcoming NFL draft impact Pittsburgh’s championship hopes? The following betting odds are based on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl 58 Odds and Futures
Last February’s early odds for Super Bowl 57 offered clues on what sportsbooks were thinking and how that wove into the thinking of the broader betting market.
For example, the Kansas City Chiefs were the favorite (+650 odds) for the Super Bowl, while the Buffalo Bills were No. 2. Not too shabby as far as year-long predictions go.
But the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers were Nos. 3 and 4, respectively — though, in fairness, Davante Adams’ status in Green Bay remained unclear at that point. The Tennessee Titans (No. 9) and Denver Broncos (No. 10) clearly underwhelmed. The Philadelphia Eagles, meanwhile, weren’t even in the top third.
Amidst major question marks at QB in the aftermath of Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement, the Steelers weren’t on the radar. Despite an intriguing offseason that included key additions at quarterback and wide receiver, Pittsburgh remained an afterthought heading into Week 1, netting the 10th-worst odds (+8000) to win Super Bowl 57.
And while their current odds of winning the next Super Bowl are noticeably better (+5500), they’re now tied for the 11th-worst odds. As we assess if bettors should lean into these odds, let’s examine a few key takeaways from the Steelers’ 2022 campaign.
Kenny Pickett, Najee Harris, and Other 2022 Season Takeaways
Heading into the 2022 NFL Draft, the last time a QB wasn’t taken in the first 20 picks was in 1997. The last time two QBs weren’t taken in the first round was in 2013. And the last time at least two quarterbacks weren’t off the board by the start of the third round was in 2000, when the 49ers ended the drought by selecting Giovanni Carmazzi. Carmazzi ended up never playing in a regular-season NFL game but notably faced off in the 2000 preseason against a far less heralded rookie named Tom Brady.
So, when it came to QBs, 2022 arguably featured the most unusual draft in more than 25 years. The Steelers took Kenny Pickett at No. 20 overall. The second QB, Desmond Ridder, came off the board well into Round 3.
In a league that loves quarterbacks like Pitfall Harry loves gold bars, most teams steered clear of the offerings, choosing instead to venture into free agency or wait until the seemingly “better” crop of talent emerged in 2023.
Pickett is one of two defining players as Pittsburgh pushes toward postseason legitimacy. Statistically, he was barely adequate, netting 10 touchdowns and 10 turnovers while displaying decent mobility and accuracy for a first-year player.
There’s also a lot to like about his game, provided he continues to develop as a relatively “old” prospect (he’ll turn 25 this summer). For example, most of his interceptions were not his fault.
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Now, that’s not unusual for quarterbacks. But when measuring the frequency of Pickett’s mistakes, we should consider that a couple interceptions bounced off his receivers’ hands, while another was on a last-second Hail Mary to tie a game. On yet another interception, his target fell down after the ball was in the air.
Pickett showed incredible poise in his first NFL start, which took place in Buffalo — not an easy stage for a debut. Yet, six of his 11 drives went inside the Bills’ 30-yard line. The box score shows Pittsburgh was crushed 38-3. But beyond the points was a simple truth: Pickett and his young band of playmakers could generate yards. The next step was figuring out how to convert those drives into scores.
And that’s where Najee Harris comes in. The second-year running back might be one improved offensive line away from becoming elite. Although his aerial usage declined considerably in 2022, he cut down on his drops per target. He also continued to exhibit elite tackle-breaking abilities on the ground.
But we don’t yet know how good Harris can be. Is he a franchise-elevating RB, or merely a four-year placeholder alongside Jaylen Warren until the Steelers find someone “better.”
Harris’ sub-4.0 yards per carry in each of his two campaigns is concerning only if he continues to lag in year No. 3. Because I’m assuming the Steelers will continue to bolster their offensive line — particularly their run blocking.
Harris can be a top-five NFL running back in the right situation. He’s one of the most complete backs in the league. His team’s roster decisions this offseason could pave the way for a breakout this team desperately needs.
2023 Offseason Moves
Owning three of the first 49 picks, the Steelers have solid draft capital. They also have a youthful nucleus on offense that should continue to gel in 2023. After focusing largely on offense in last year’s draft, I expect them to lock in on more defensive upgrades this year, particularly for a secondary and pass rush that’s currently middling at best.
NFL Free Agency
In the coming weeks, we’ll update this section with breaking news on key Steelers arrivals and departures through free agency and trades, how it impacts their Super Bowl odds, and how it might inform our decision to bet on them to somehow win it all.
In early May, we’ll update this section on key Steelers draft picks and UDFA signings, with an eye toward any instant-impact players who could help catapult them into Super Bowl consideration.