Did Someone Say Underdog?
Everyone loves a Cinderella! Underdogs are coming off a season going 130-122-3 (51.6%) ATP in the NFL in 2021. This made bettors lots of money, especially if they were sprinkling the ML on those bets. Here is one of my favorite underdog plays week one:
Steelers (+6.5) vs Bengals
Cincy Due to Regress
The Bengals were a fun story and everything in 2021, but this is 2022. Yes, Joe Burrow and Jamar Chase are awesome we know that! But, lots of other factors came into play during their super bowl run last season. They played against secondaries in the regular season decimated by injury like in Baltimore. Need I mention the Mike White Game week 7? The Titans mismanaged the clock and handed them turnover after turnover in their playoff matchup. Joe Burrow was also sacked nine times in that game.
The Chiefs had the AFC title in the bag just before half and mismanaged the clock right before half time. Had they not, the chiefs would’ve been up a minimum of 14 going into half. They also still have lots of issues too on their offensive line.Better days will be ahead for Joe Burrow and Cincy, but a Super Bowl appearance hangover could very well be in order. Joe cool and company may need an extra week to collect themselves and return to end of season form from 2021.
Mitchy Mitch A Lovable Underdog
The Steelers have had a stellar offseason entering 2022. They expect to see stronger quarterback play from a younger more reliable starter than Big Ben was last year at that point of his career. Mitch Trubisky has had his struggles in the past, but he moves around much better than Big Ben could towards the end in Pittsburgh. Trubisky’s an underdog just like the Steelers this year.
Mitch will also have the chance to play under a competent organization compared to his time in Chicago. He also learned a lot backing up Josh Allen in the Brian Daboll system in 2021. Mitch also showed out in the his limited appearances in Buffalo last season. He was drafted second overall for a reason and still has lots of potential.
Phenomenal WR Room
The Steelers also added training camp standout rookie George Pickens to their wide receiver room. He can block and run routes better than most veterans in the league. They also get a proven veteran wideout Diontae Johnson back on the field healthy as one of the best route runners in football.
As well as, third year wideout Chase Claypool looking to bounce back after a disappointing sophomore campaign. Don’t knock Claypool too much for last season though. The odds were not in his favor as he couldn’t stay healthy and he had to deal with the worst version of Ben Roethlisburger as his QB. Claypool is a freak of nature with outstanding height, wingspan, and leaping ability that we saw on display his rookie season. Look for him to be much improved in 2021.
TJ, Minkah, and Najee
Oh and did I mention they have TJ Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick still? No? Oh well they have those two guys and they can flat out play. This defense is still going to be a dominant force in this league. If that wasn’t enough for you they have one of the best RBs in the league entering his second season in Najee Harris. Look for Trubisky to take a little bit of pressure off of the former Alabama star this season with them being more of a threat in the passing game.
Just Win Baby!
The Steelers also will simply find a way to win games. This is especially true when people tout them as an underdog. In Mike Tomlin’s 16 years with the team, they have not once had a losing season! Remember week one last year in Buffalo when the the Steelers were 6.5 point dogs? It may have been one of the only highlights of the season, but they not only just covered. They won outright! Look for this trend to potentially continue in Cincy this weekend seeing Pittsburgh go in to Cincy as an underdog coming away with a W.
Another trend I like is underdogs in week 1. Last year ATS, underdogs were 12-4 ATS. Divisional Dogs have gone a whopping 58-36-2 ATS (61.7%) since 2005, according to Action. This has all the makings of a divisional upset in this AFC North rivalry. There is no love lost between these two teams! Dogs getting less than 50% of the money are also 39-24-1 (61.9%) since 2005 in the Action data.
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