Football is a chaotic sport. A cursory glance at a box score to see who won and who did well will tells a bettor very little about what actually happened. In this column, we will dive deeper to find angles the average bettor would miss in reviewing the results and will use them to our advantage the next week.
Here are my Week 1 NFL betting takeaways:
Pittsburgh Has A Problem
Final score: Steelers 23 (+ 6.5), Bills 16
Game stays Under total of 48
After a win in Buffalo, the betting market seems to have some real belief in Pittsburgh. Lookahead lines posted last week had the Steelers as 5.5-point favorites at home against the Raiders, but when lines were posted marketwide Sunday, they were laying a solid 6. It’s not a massive bump, but upgrading Pittsburgh after that game is not the move to make. The Steelers are a dominant defensive team, and that played out Sunday, but the offense has some real problems that were not fixed in the offseason.
Pittsburgh managed only 4.6 yards per play and was outgained by 119 yards. The Steelers averaged just 22.9 yards per drive — 6 fewer than the worst team in that metric last season, the New York Jets. The most troubling aspect of their offense was not just the statistical output, though. It was that the areas thought to be weaknesses, offensive line and quarterback, were negatives. One might look at the box score and see Ben Roethlisberger was not sacked and think it was a good day for the offensive line, but that is not the case. On 13 true pass sets, which excludes plays with fewer than four rushers, play-action, screens, short drop-backs and time-to-throws under two seconds, the Steelers gave up five pressures, two quarterback hits and a hurry. The run-blocking was atrocious. Najee Harris found no room on the ground, managing just 2.8 yards per carry. As a result, the Steelers had no game off play-action despite their attempts to do so.