I always find it interesting to see how public perception changes in the sporting landscape. Last offseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers saw their 2011 Super Bowl odds fall precipitously after Santonio Holmes was traded and Ben Roethlisberger was issued a four-game suspension to start the season. Looks like the Steelers again are falling out of favor with the betting public after the wild and crazy free agency period. How so? Well, as of late May, the Steelers were listed as 11:1 favorites to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February. Only the Patriots and Packers (both 7:1) were bigger favorites.
Fast forward a little more than two months and the Steelers now have six teams ahead of them.
New England Patriots 13/2
Green Bay Packers 7/1
Philadelphia Eagles 8/1
San Diego Chargers 11/1
New York Jets 12/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 14/1
Now, Vegas knows what it's doing. Clearly they know some money is going to flood in on the teams who made the most high-profile free agent moves (New England, Philadelphia, New York Jets). But how do you explain the Chargers moving up past the Steelers? Also, what is it exactly that the Steelers did or failed to do that would cause fans or scribes to wonder how tough they'll be in 2011? The Steelers achieved their top goal in free agency - re-signing Ike Taylor - and unlike all the teams who made flashy moves, the Steelers won't have to worry about scrambling to catch their new guys up to speed prior to the start of the season.
This may not be the ideal time to take a position on the Steelers, but it's certainly not a bad one. Pittsburgh is stacked and in great position to make another deep run. The ideal time might be if the Steelers were to lose their season opener at Baltimore. I'm sure they'd drop down in the high-teens range and fall behind Baltimore with a loss in Week 1. We'll keep an eye on this for kicks and giggles throughout the '11 preseason and regular season. Thankfully for Steeler Nation, we can comfortably say that there aren't a whole lot of believers just yet. That's probably just the way Mike Tomlin & Co. want it in early August.