No matter how many ugly games the Steelers win or how many upset victories they pull out of the hat, and there have been plenty of those already in this young season, it seems oddsmakers aren't buying them as serious contenders.
Hell, Vegas doesn't even think they'll make the playoffs.
Despite sitting at 5-3, which currently sets them as the fifth seed in the playoffs, the Steelers are UNDERDOGS to make the playoffs. They have -160 odds to miss the playoffs and +130 odds to make it.
That means oddsmakers are giving them an implied probability of 61.5% to MISS the playoffs and only 43.5% of making it.
Steelers NFL Playoff Odds
Equally stunning, their current win total OVER/UNDER (how many wins they'll earn this season) is set at 9.5, with the UNDER an overwhelming favorite to the OVER. That means oddsmakers believe they'll be a 9-8 team at best, which, based on their current record, means they'll play sub-.500 (4-5) football the rest of the season.
When you look at their schedule, that's surprising to me.
Steelers Total Wins Odds
Looking ahead, the Steelers host the Packers (2-5) with a long week to prepare followed by games against the Browns (4-3) , Bengals (4-3), Cardinals (1-7), Patriots (2-6) and Colts (3-5). They should be favored against the Packers, Cardinals, Patriots and Colts and likely underdogs on the road against their two division rivals.
At worst, I see them going 4-2 in that stretch, taking them to 9-5.
The Steelers have a tough finish to the year: home vs Cincinnati then on the road at Seattle (5-2) and Baltimore (6-2). They'll likely be underdogs in all of those games. But this year, Pittsburgh is 4-2 outright as underdogs, giving me confidence they'll steal at least one of those games.
That puts them at 10 wins at 10 wins should get into the playoffs in the AFC. Heck, 9 did last year.
I get why oddsmakers doubt them. They are 29th in the league in scoring and net yards per play, making them one of the worst offenses in the league. But running backs Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren looked strong in Thursday's win over the Titans and wide receivers Diontae Johnson and George Pickens are an elite 1-2 combo. Maybe Kenny Pickett will stop missing wide open throws?
What is certain is this defense is elite. T.J. Watt is arguably the best defensive player in the NFL; certainly among the top 3 defensive ends. Alex Highsmith is becoming an elite pass rusher. Cameron Hayward is back from injury. Minkah Fitzpatrick is hurt now, but he's elite. They have willed the Steelers to at least three of their wins this year. They have a few more in em.