There’s nothing like starting the 2019 NFL season with a battle of AFC heavyweights in a contest that will surely get plenty of action at offshore sportsbooks. The New England Patriots have been the most dominant team in the league for nearly two decades and begin defense of their second Super Bowl title in three years against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. The Steelers haven’t won in Foxboro in their last three tries and are looking to get back to the postseason after missing the festivities last year. The game kicks off at 8:20 p.m. ET from Gillette Stadium.
NFL Odds at BookMaker.eu
Pittsburgh Steelers +5.5
New England Patriots -5.5
Pittsburgh at New England Odds Analysis
This game hit the board at Patriots -6 and bounced around a bit before settling at its current -5.5. Squares are heavily betting New England, which is getting over 70 percent of the early action. These are two public teams and I expect the Pats to continue getting a majority of the handle. It would be wise to wait until the weekend when the line could jump to Pittsburgh +6 or even +6.5. The more points the better, especially in a season opener with so many unknowns.
We won’t even bother examining the preseason results since they are meaningless. And there is some question as to just how much last season’s stats and results play into this season. Still, the Steelers went undefeated as road dogs last year going 4-0 against the spread and 3-1 straight up. Overall, they were 4-3-1 both SU and ATS. Unlike last season’s meeting, the Steelers will have their top two running backs and receivers healthy for Ben Roethlisberger. Despite being shorthanded, the Steelers won that game outright, 17-10, as a 2.5-point pup.
New England Odds
The Pats reached the Super Bowl in each of the past three seasons in part because of their homefield dominance. Including playoffs, the Pats won all nine games at Gillette Stadium last season while posting a sparkling 7-2 ATS mark. Over the past three seasons they are 25-4 SU and 21-8 ATS. The Steelers were a victim in the 2017 AFC Championship with the Pats winning 36-17 as a 6-point favorite.
It seems like we have this conversation every year around this time. No, it’s not Tom Brady’s age, though that number is climbing and will certainly be mentioned on the Sunday night broadcast. The real question is who will Brady throw the football to? The group of pass catchers is in flux with the retirement of Gronk, first-round pick N’Keal Harry going on injured reserve and Josh Gordon making his way back from suspension. Ben Watson will likely be the starter at tight end when he returns from suspension. In the meantime, Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo will see time. Demaryious Thomas was released then resigned, and he’s dealing with an injury that will limit him. It never seems to matter, though, since Brady has a way of making everyone around him better.
The teams met late last season and the Steelers showed up, ending a three-game losing streak with a 17-10 win, reviving their faint playoff hopes, though they ended up missing the postseason anyway. How the Steelers won was impressive. With James Connor missing the game, rookie Jaylen Samuels hogged the spotlight running for 142 yards on 19 carries with an additional 30 receiving yards. Pittsburgh’s defense thwarted Brady and New England’s ground game, limiting Sony Michel to 59 yards while holding the Pats to just three third-down conversions in 10 attempts. Pittsburgh won outright as a 2.5-point home dog.
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