Going on the road to take on a defending division champion seems daunting. For the Steelers to only be three-point underdogs speaks well to faith in them from the gambling community.
Or perhaps it's just early in the week.
Bovada.lv shows the Panthers as three point home favorites for Sunday Night Football in Week 3. Considering how well the Panthers played in their Week 2 victory over the Detroit Lions, it seems reasonable to assume that spread will grow a bit more in their favor. Then add in the fact home teams are even tougher to beat overall on prime time, and the Steelers have quite a challenge ahead of them.
One advantage they may have is the fact quarterbacks facing the Steelers defense for the first time haven't typically fared well overall. While that stigma has probably been reduced in recent games, there have been points of struggle for all of them, including Cleveland's Brian Hoyer, who had his first live look at the Steelers' defense in Week 1. Hoyer was dominant during the second half, after the Browns had a chance to adjust, but he was lost in the first half, with nearly all of his yards coming on a 41-yard completion to tight end Jordan Cameron.
It's the second consecutive prime-time road game for the Steelers, which is a tough way to open the season, but with a weekend off, this was a mini-bye week for the team. A team as young and new as the Steelers will definitely benefit from the extra time to break down film and work on fundamentals - tackling, most notably. The Steelers are on pace to miss nearly twice as many tackles as they did in 2013, and that wasn't exactly a great tackling season in its own right.