The undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers placed “Big” Ben Roethlisberger and four other players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list after tight end Vance McDonald tested positive for the coronavirus.

Big Ben Pittsburgh Steelers Reserve/COVID
Ben Roethlisberger is one of five members of the Pittsburgh Steelers placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list after a positive test from a teammate. (Image: Gail Burton/AP)

The betting markets adjusted when news about Roethlisberger broke. The point spread on this Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals opened at -9.5 or -10 in some spots, but moved to Pittsburgh -7 after the news broke.

The Steelers didn’t confirm if any of the other four players, aside from McDonald, tested positive. All players have to isolate for five days and can return to the team for their next game if they test negative.

  • QB Ben Roethlisberger
  • RB Jaylen Samuels
  • OL Jerald Hawkins
  • LB Vince Williams
  • TE Vance McDonald

Overall, the Steelers didn’t see any change in their championship futures. The Steelers are currently +550 odds to win the Super Bowl, according to DraftKings, which is the same price they were last weekend.

Big Ben Sore Knee

The Steelers are 8-0 mainly because of a simple fact: Big Ben remained healthy. He dinged his knee in Week 9 and left the game momentarily. He returned in the second half to help rally the Steelers to a victory against the sad-sack Dallas Cowboys.

The Cowboys opened up a 13-9 lead at halftime, and extended it to 19-9 heading into the fourth quarter. The Steelers scored 15 points in the last frame to win 24-19. Even with a sore knee, Roethlisberger tossed two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including a 31-yard missile to JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Pittsburgh officials placed Roethlisberger on the Reserve/COVID list because he sat next to Vance McDonald on the plane ride to/from Dallas.

The Steelers will ride or die this season based upon Big Ben’s health. Even though he won’t be allowed to practice, he probably would have skipped it anyway to heal up for the weekend. He’ll continue to rehab his knee.

Head coach Mike Tomlin remains upbeat despite the bad beat.

“It will probably give their bodies an opportunity to get some much-needed rest, and we’re optimistic those guys will be their normal selves if given an opportunity to play this weekend,” said Tomlin.

If Big Ben is out this weekend, Mason Rudolph will get the starting nod at quarterback. Josh Dobbs will also get a promotion from third-string to backup QB.

Perfect Season in Jeopardy?

The Steelers are undefeated at 8-0, and they’re on a difficult quest to finish the season with a perfect 16-0 record. If you polled most football experts before the season began, the Steelers wouldn’t be on the shortlist of teams (e.g. Kansas City) that they thought could run the table to finish a perfect 16-0.

Before the news about Big Ben, the Steelers were +900 odds to finish the season 16-0. Since the news broke about McDonald testing positive and Roethlisberger heading to the Reserve/COVID list, oddsmakers adjusted their 16-0 line to +1100 or 11/1 odds.

  • YES +1100
  • NO -2500

If you want to wager “No” on the Steelers’ 16-0 prop bet, you have to lay even more money now. Before the news, the Steelers were -1667 to lose a game this season and not finish 16-0. Right now, that “No” number is -2500.

The Steelers have a tough schedule in the second half of the season, including smashmouth divisional games against AFC North foes. In December, Pittsburgh squares off against Buffalo (7-2) and Indianapolis (5-3), in addition to two divisional road games at Cincinnati in Week 15, and at Cleveland in Week 17.

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