The New England Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers for the first installment of Sunday Night Football in the NFL’s 100th season. Kickoff is set for 8:20 PM EST on September 8th at Gillette Stadium and the game will be broadcast on NBC.
Oddsmakers opened this game up with the Pats listed as 5.5-point home favorites. That line has yet to change after early betting, as New England is currently available at -5.5. The total for this matchup is 51 points. Click here for a full look at the Week 1 NFL odds and for more links to our individual game previews.
Patriots vs Steelers Vegas Game Odds & Betting Preview
New England Patriots
The Patriots are reigning Super Bowl champions after defeating the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII. New England had a solid regular season, finishing 11-5 overall before running the table in the playoffs despite a close call against Kansas City in the AFC Championship. QB Tom Brady returns for his 20th season after passing for 4,355 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2018. While he will certainly miss longtime TE Rob Gronkowski, the reinstatement of Josh Brown and the last-minute addition of Antonio Brown should potentially make a Patriots offense that averaged 27.7 points per game last year even better in 2019. New England also was quite effective on the ground, racking up 132.7 rushing yards per game (5th overall).
Despite a very rocky start to the year, the Patriots defense turned it on down the stretch and into the playoffs, soaring up the ranks across most defensive categories. They held opponents to just 20.4 points per game (6th overall) and were very good against the run as well (101.3). However, New England did really struggle against the pass, giving up 247.7 yards per game through the air (22nd overall).
The Steelers self-destructed down the stretch in 2018 after a drama filled regular season, failing to qualify for the playoffs after Baltimore edged them out for the AFC North crown. There was distractions aplenty for Pittsburgh, including a lengthy holdout by Le’Veon Bell and several locker room spats that snowballed into the unexpected departure of Antonio Brown. QB Ben Roethlisberger is back for his 16th season after throwing for 5,129 yards and 34 touchdowns in 2018. Despite all the drama, the Steelers offense still averaged 26.8 points per game (5th overall) after big contributions from James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster. They were especially explosive through the air, averaging 313.0 passing yards per game – the second highest in the entire NFL.
The Pittsburgh defense ended up around the league average last year, giving up 22.5 points per game (16th overall). However, they were certainly above average at defending against both the run and the pass, ranking 5th and 10th overall respectively.
Free NFL Betting Predictions and ATS Pick: Steelers +5.5
While the majority of the public seems to be on New England here in Week 1, I think this game could easily go either way. If the spread was a field goal or less, I’d probably roll with the Patriots at home. However, leaving 5.5 points on the board in this matchup seems pretty foolish to me, especially since Pittsburgh could easily win this game outright. It is important to remember just how slowly the Pats have started out over the last few years. Most recently, they started their 2018 season with a brutal 1-2 stretch that included loses to both Jacksonville AND Detroit. The Steelers are certainly battle-tested enough to shock New England at home if they show signs of even the tiniest Super Bowl hangover on Sunday night.
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Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if Brady and Co. found a way to win their home opener. I just think that this is shaping up to be a “last possession wins” type of game, with a last second field goal attempt to win it. The Steelers have to be feeling good after avoiding any further Antonio Brown drama, while New England won’t welcome AB into the fold until Week 2 at the earliest. All things considered, I think that Pittsburgh should either win this one outright or come up just short – which is still a cover. Give me the Steelers!