Editor’s note: The odds below are courtesy of Heavy’s partners at OddsShark. Click here for more odds and betting info at OddsShark.com.
The NFL returns–for real this time, no more of that preseason nonsense–Thursday night with two teams that have combined to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl nine times in the last 14 seasons: the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers.
But while these are annually two of the best teams in the league, this particular matchup is projected to be more lopsided than usual. With Tom Brady winning his suspension appeal, and Pittsburgh without the services of Le’Veon Bell (suspension), Martavis Bryant (suspension) and Maurkice Pouncey (injury), oddsmakers are favoring the Pats by a touchdown and extra point.
Here’s everything you need to know about the betting information, per OddsShark.com:
Line: New England (-7.5)
Moneyline: Pittsburgh (+255), New England (-310)
Per OddsShark.com, the Steelers are just 3-9 against the spread in their last 12 games vs. the Patriots. Expect that trend to continue.
New England may be without Brandon LaFell and LeGarrette Blount, but Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and a bunch of tertiary targets (Scott Chandler, Danny Amendola, Brandon Bolden, Dion Lewis) will be enough for Tom Brady to consistently move the ball against a team that ranked 30th in Football Outsiders’ pass defense rankings last year and hasn’t improved all that much.
As Rotoworld’s Evan Silva noted, the Pats, who averaged 45 throws per game in the 2014 playoffs, may be forced to go to the air, which could be bad news for Pittsburgh:
When the Steelers are on offense, the suspensions to Bell, arguably the most explosive running back in the league, and Bryant, a sometimes unstoppable deep threat, will be talked about most. But the loss of Pouncey, who rated as the fourth-best pass-blocking center and 10th-best run-blocking center in 2014 per Pro Football Focus, is just as significant.
Pittsburgh’s offense, led by Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, is good enough that it might be able to overcome one or two of those absences. But all three, on the road, against the defending Super Bowl champs? Don’t count on it.
Prediction: New England 31, Pittsburgh 21
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