Though I suspect the vast majority of regular BTSC readers only rarely, if ever, engage in sports betting, here's some fun player prop bets for various Pittsburgh Steelers players in 2011. If nothing else, they're a nice conversation starter. I'll share my thoughts on each.
Pittsburgh Steelers Player Props
Ben Roethlisberger - Total Passing Yards in the 2011 Regular Season
Ben Roethlisberger - Total Passing Touchdowns in the 2011 Regular Season
Over/Under: 24 ½
Ben Roethlisberger - Total Interceptions thrown in the 2011 Regular Season
Rashard Mendenhall - Total Rushing Yards in the 2011 Regular Season
Rashard Mendenhall - Total Rushing Touchdowns in the 2011 Regular Season
Over/Under: 9 ½
Mike Wallace - Total Receiving Yards in the 2011 Regular Season
Mike Wallace - Total Receiving Touchdowns in the 2011 Regular Season
Over/Under: 8 ½
Hines Ward - Total Receiving Yards in the 2011 Regular Season
Hines Ward - Total Receiving Touchdowns in the 2011 Regular Season
Jerricho Cotchery - Total Receiving Yards in the 2011 Regular Season
James Harrison - Total Sacks in the 2011 Regular Season
Over/Under: 10 ½
James Harrison - Total times fined by the NFL in the 2011 Regular Season
Over/Under: 1 ½
LaMarr Woodley - Total Sacks in the 2011 Regular Season
Troy Polamalu - Total Interceptions in the 2011 Regular Season
- Big Ben's passing yards benchmark (3,800) is a tough one. Clearly the books are expecting Roethlisberger to have a huge season. Only once in his career ('09) did he even come close to surpassing the 3,800 yard plateau (4,328). His second highest total was in 2006 when he finished with 3,513 passing yards. Perhaps not coincidentally, those two years were the lone years that the Steelers did not advance to the playoffs in the previous half decade. Worth noting though is that Big Ben was on pace to eclipse 4,000 yards last season had he not been forced to miss the first four games due to suspension. The real questions will be (1) how often are the Steelers playing with the lead, (2) will the Steelers try to limit Rashard Mendenhall's workload even just modestly after his 324 carry season in '10, and (3) will Big Ben be able to stay healthy enough to play 16 games? I ultimately think he goes over the 3800 yards, but only slightly.
- Another tough call, and ultimately one I wouldn't take a position on personally, but I think it's going to be tough for teams to continually traverse 80 yards to find the endzone thanks to the new kickoff rule change. Having to go an extra few yards on each drive might lend itself to more passing yards, but it should also lead to more field goal opportunities and fewer TD drives. That, ultimately, is why I think Roethlisberger probably finishes right around 25 passing TDs even though every sign points to him having a beastly year statistically. He's just too prone to a drive-killing sack to like his chances on that many 80 yard drives over the course of a a season.
- Roethlisberger has only once finished a season with fewer than 10 interceptions, 2005 when he threw just 9 on a modest 268 attempts. Roethlisberger's 1.3 percent interception rate last season was easily the best mark of his career, but because I see the Steelers throwing the ball more in '11, I have a hard time seeing how he doesn't throw somewhere between 12-16 INTs. Guess how many times Peyton Manning has thrown fewer than 12 interceptions in the last four seasons? That's right, zero. Roethlisberger seems poised for an outstanding season, but I don't think he'll throw fewer than 11 interceptions. I'm going over.
- Rashard Mendenhall over 1,110 might be one of the few 'locks' on this list. I don't expect Mendenhall to really improve on his solid '10 season (324 carries, 1279 yards, 13 TD), but here's basically what he'd need to do in order to surpass 1,110 yards -- 280 carries (17.5 carries per game), 4.0 yards per carry (total of 1,120 yards). Take the over here.
- Mendenhall's touchdown total will, in my opinion, be largely determined by the number of turnovers the defense is able to create. If Dick LeBeau's unit can set up the offense for a handful of easy scores, than sure, I'd take the over. But similar to my rationale about Big Ben's TD total, I would be less inclined to take the over if I knew the Steelers were going to be facing 80 yards of grass on most drives. I'd stay away from this one personally with a slight inclination to lean under if I were forced to take a position.
- Well, Mike Wallace may have declared confidently that he's aiming for 2,000 yards this season, but I think somewhere in the 1,000-1,300 range is a lot more realistic. I personally think that Wallace will draw significantly more attention in '11 and therefore see his productivity decline slightly, but 1,050 is low enough that I think one could at least somewhat confidently take the over on the third-year speedster. Were Wallace to see his receptions total increase from 60 to 70 this year, he's only need to average 15.0 yards per reception to push the bet. He's averaged 20.33 yards per pop in his first two seasons. I'd take the over but I expect it to be close.
- Another brilliant line by the book here. Wallace had at least four long TD receptions in '10, and it's not as if they all came once Ben Roethlisberger returned. It's hard to confidently predict that he'll again beat defenses deep three or four times when it's plainly obvious that he'll be the center of defensive coordinator's attention each week. But it's hard to shut down someone with that much God-given ability. I'd probably take the under here though if I had a gun to my head.
- Hines Ward over/under 700 receiving yards. Lock-city. OVER. The last time Ward didn't finish with at least 700 yards? 2000! Sure, no one can escape the effects of Father Time, but Ward has looked sharp this preseason. With Wallace set to get more attention from opposing defenses, expect Ward to be freed up for additional opportunities in '11. The bottom line is Big Ben feels more comfortable throwing to Ward than he does any other WR on the roster. He'll get his 65-80 receptions at minimum, and he'll break off a just enough 25+ yard gains to surpass that 700 yard marker without too much trouble.
- I wouldn't bet either way on Ward's TD total for the same reasons I've already outlined above. Five or six seems about right though.
- I certainly wouldn't advise taking a position on Jerricho Cotchery's receiving yards total. It all depends on Emmanuel Sanders' health really. If Sanders can't stay healthy, Cotchery easily surpasses 400 yards. If Cotchery is relegated to a Antwaan Randel El type role from a year ago (22 receptions, 253 yards), than it would be hard for him to get enough looks to get there. But I think Cotchery will be in the ballpark even if Sanders does play close to a full slate of regular season games.
- Considering James Harrison hasn't eclipsed 10.5 sacks the previous two seasons, it's hard to argue in favor of him going over that number in 2011. But then again, back issues and all, do you really want to bet against the baddest dude in the National Football League? Safe money says go under here since most of the betting folks across the country aren't quite aware of how slowly Deebo has progressed this offseason getting back into football shape.
- Ha, on the one hand going under on how many times Harrison is fined seems like a safe bet. But if he is in fact a half step slow for much of this year, he might find himself delivering some 'late' hits that draw the ire of the commissioner. Let's just stay away from this one.
- Sure would be nice for Woodley to deliver a huge first year after signing a mega-extension this offseason. 10 sacks seems about right though for Woodley. A two or three sack outing somewhere along the line would go a long ways towards either he or Harrison exceeding expectations.
- With all the passing attempts the Steelers defense will likely face, I'd probably take the over on Troy Polmalu reaching five interceptions. But he has only done so in three of his eight professional seasons.