The reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots have now won six titles in franchise history, tying them with the Pittsburgh Steelers for most all-time. How fitting is it that the Patriots and the Steelers open up their 2019 season against each other at Gillette Stadium on Sunday night?
The two have developed a rivalry over the past two decades that has included a trio of New England wins over Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship game, all en route to Super Bowl titles.
The Patriots have a dynamic offense this season while the Steelers look to rebuild theirs without the likes of Le’Veon Bell or Antonio Brown.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs New England Patriots
Sunday, September 8, 8:20 p.m.
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
*All odds and betting info courtesy of OddsShark and originally posted by BetOnline.
Spread: New England (-5.5 at -105)
It’s definitely a new era for the Steelers without Antonio Brown, though not all negative.
With an offense built around young phenoms JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner, the Steelers will try to navigate back to the postseason again this year. But it will be an uphill climb with a different looking offense that must adapt on the fly this season.
The defense for the Steelers remains tough and has only added strength on all fronts. Pittsburgh was sixth last season in yards allowed with opponents averaging 327.2 from scrimmage. But how can they fare against a Patriots offense that not only ended the year as the sixth-highest gaining offense in the NFL but also added valuable weapons too?
New England Patriots
Josh Gordon is back for the Patriots and has fellow veteran outside receiver Demaryius Thomas on the other side. Thomas is looking questionable, however, for Sunday’s game as he deals with a hamstring injury less than a week after being released and resigned.
New England’s strength on offense, aside from Tom Brady, may be its running game. Sony Michel has the ability to be a perennial 1,000-yard rusher with a supporting cast of James White and Rex Burkhead, both of whom can help in the running or passing game.
Defensively, the Patritos are much improved despite losing some fire power in the pass rush with Trey Flowers. The linebacker unit is deep and the secondary is one of the strongest in the NFL. With so much veteran presence, the Patriots are still relatively young on that side of the ball but talented enough to perform well.
The Patriots and Steelers didn’t put up a lot of points last year as the two engaged in a defensive struggle. With New England’s offense stepping forward and the Steelers taking a step back, the Patriots should come out on top this time. But how many points they score is the main question.
New England will still try to shake off some of the rust as is the case with most early-season contests. The Steelers’ defense is tough and will not make things easy for the Patriots. The biggest thing New England lacks is Rob Gronkowski’s presence at tight end. How much of a factor that is in the running game and even in pass protection remains to be seen.
Pick: The Patriots cover the spread in a double-digit win that is a lot closer than the score indicates. However, the teams do not hit the over.