How to Bet Every Pittsburgh Steelers Game in 2020
The NFL season is around the corner -- even if that corner is a little farther down the block than it may normally be. Despite that, FanDuel Sportsbook has given us tons and tons and tons (did I mention tons?) of offerings to wager on for the 2020 season.
One of them includes game-by-game spreads and moneylines for a few teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Which Steelers games offer value?
So, we don't know the week-by-week schedule for the NFL, but we do know home and road opponents for the year. Thus, we know every matchup and can adjust for home/road context.
Using win totals and betting lines attached to them, we can approximate point differential for a team. If you're a numberFire regular, you'll know our nERD metric well. It indicates expected point differential against an average opponent on a neutral field. Regressing win totals and betting odds on those totals allowed me to approximate nERD for 2020.
From there, we can simulate a team's schedule a few thousand times to see where value is available.
The Schedule and Results
The table here lists the Steelers' home/road status and their opponent. Next, it's the actual spread and moneyline listed on FanDuel Sportsbook.
After that, it's the average point differential for the Steelers in the simulated games. This also reflects the expected nERD differential between the teams going into the matchup. Over 10,000 simulations, things average out to around the same number. I also listed the percentage of games in which the Steelers covered the spread.
The final two columns indicate moneyline and outright win information: the percentage of simulated games won and the value on the moneyline (compared to their listed moneyline odds).
The Steelers' schedule is one of the easiest in football this year. Using win odds and betting lines, their schedule is just 28th-toughest (or 5th-easiest). That's pretty spicy for Pittsburgh backers on their overall win total.
That win total of 9.0 is met with -110 odds on the over and under, so they're valued as a 9.0-win team in these simulations. That usually comes with a nERD score (or expected point differential) of around 1.66 points historically.
On their schedule, they have a mix of opponents with the public backing the over and the under. Of note, the Buffalo Bills (-160 to go over 8.5 wins), the Dallas Cowboys (-150 to go over 9.5 wins), the Cincinnati Bengals (-130 to go over 5.5 wins), and the Indianapolis Colts (-160 to go over 8.5 wins) all are valued a little better than their raw win total suggests. That explains the discrepancy in Pittsburgh's odds in those matchups at the bottom of the table.
The Best Value Spots
The Cleveland Browns are -130 to go under 8.5 wins, whereas the Steelers are trending the other way from a .500 record. Despite that, the Browns are still laying 2.5 points in when they host the Steelers. The betting data suggests that the spread should be close to a pick'em, so Pittsburgh has value in Cleveland. Pittsburgh also covered a 3.0-point spread a majority of the time when hosting Cleveland.
The Baltimore Ravens will be a tough out this year for sure. Their win total is 11.5 games, yet the under is listed at -125 (compared to +105 on the over). That means Baltimore is about 56% likely to go under 11.5 wins. Adjusting for that still makes them one of the NFL's best teams, but there could be value betting against them. Pittsburgh covered the spread 53.9% of the time in each matchup with Baltimore.
The Tennessee Titans are -110 to go under 8.5 wins, so they're valued pretty similarly to Pittsburgh overall but should still be considered the weaker team. Home field advantage could be lessened without crowds, so it depends mostly on how big you view the gap to be between Pittsburgh and Tennessee. The simulations like Pittsburgh to cover.
There are a lot of tougher-than-expected individual games on Pittsburgh's schedule despite the overall weak draw. Betting Pittsburgh really comes down to taking a stand on where you disagree with the public. If you view Cincinnati more toward the under of the 5.5-win total, then you shouldn't worry about those matchups with Pittsburgh. Using all the available data, though, Cincinnati could put up a fight.