The days when the Philadelphia Eagles were considered odds-on favorites to win the NFC East or at least vie for a playoff spot appear over. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers, while arguably better positioned than the Eagles for 2021, are also facing an uphill battle to in a division that has become tougher with the emergence of the Cleveland Browns to go along with perennial contender Baltimore.
The Eagles saw their long-range plans unravel in 2020 when the relationship between former franchise quarterback Carson Wentz and then head coach Doug Pederson – and by extension with the franchise overall – soured to the point that both Wentz and Pederson are gone.
Wentz’s string of injuries and precipitous drop in performance took his status with the team from frustrating to toxic. The best the Eagles could do in the offseason was to trade him to Indianapolis for draft picks, a third-rounder in 2021 and a conditional second-rounder (possibly rising to first round in 2022). All of that has left the Eagles with essentially unproven second-year QB Jalen Hurts, a mobile quarterback whose resume as a pro is thin. He was 1-3 in just four starts in 2020. Hurts has shown himself to be adequate as a passer and he has flashed as a runner.
Further clouding the Eagles’ picture is that they have a first-year head coach in Nick Sirianni (above). Most of the roster from the championship 2017 season has been turned over. Bright spots are running back Miles Sanders, No. 1 pick WR DeVonta Smith and a stout defensive line.
Based on all of that, the Eagles are 3.5-point underdogs at BetRivers Sportsbook PA for Sunday’s Week 1 opener on the road against the Atlanta Falcons. That makes it an even matchup between four-win teams from 2020; home field is usually worth around three points at sportsbooks.
From a season-long odds perspective, the Eagles are +500 to win the NFC East, the longest shot in the division, at DraftKings PA Sportsbook. But Philadelphia has the advantage of playing in arguably the weakest division in the NFL where Dallas (+150) is the preseason favorite, assuming that quarterback Dak Prescott remains healthy as he returns from ankle surgery for an injury that ended his 2020 season. Still, for the Eagles, a mediocre 10-7 or even 9-8 season under the NFL’s new 17-game format could actually mean a playoff spot.
The Steelers are in the process of remolding their team but the centerpiece remains the same: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, now in his 18th season.
The Steelers won the AFC North last season with a 12-4 record, yet this season, they are +425 to repeat with both Baltimore (+115) and Cleveland (+150) ahead of Pittsburgh on the odds board at BetMGM PA Sportsbook. While the Steelers are relying on a QB who has Pittsburgh fans holding their breath every time he takes a hit, the Ravens and the Browns are led by young, emerging quarterbacks in Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield, respectively.
But beyond the durability of Roethlisberger, what raises questions about the Steelers for anyone doing online sports betting in Pennsylvania is a revamped offensive line that will include rookie starters at critical spots, center (Kendrick Green) and left tackle (Dan Moore Jr.). Pittsburgh’s main running back is also a rookie, first-round pick Najee Harris.
Pittsburgh has a tough opener on Sunday, traveling to Buffalo to face a Bills team that won the AFC East and reached the AFC Championship Game last season. The Steelers are a 6.5-point underdog on Sunday with Unibet Sportsbook in PA.
The Steelers’ season-long problem is that it’ll perhaps take 12 to 14 wins to finish first in the extremely tough division. But there’s a good chance that at least one AFC wild card will come from the North.
Looking at super Bowl odds, the Steelers range from +3500 (Bet365) to +5000 (BetMGM) to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy, depending on the Pennsylvania online casino. The Eagles have a wider range for their Super Bowl odds and are much more a longshot ranging from +6600 (Bet365) to +12500 (PointsBet) to duplicate their Super Bowl LII triumph.