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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots Point Spread - Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
Week 1 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday Night Football, September 8, 2019 at 8:20PM EST
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
TV: NBC

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: PIT +6/NE -6
Over/Under Total: 51.5

The Pittsburgh Steelers come into Foxborough to face the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football with both teams getting their regular seasons underway. In the last 16 seasons, one of these teams has represented the AFC in the Super Bowl eleven times. The other five times were Peyton Manning-led teams. This season could very well see something similar. The Steelers are trying to atone for a down 2018 season, by their standards. They were locked out of the postseason and you can sense a team-wide urgency on their part to make things right. But there is no less urgency on the part of the Patriots, as one would figure the Brady/Bellichick powerhouse is down to its last few chances.

So I wouldn't bet on the Pats to have a typical Super Bowl hangover period. Brady is 42 and can't go on forever. This is a big home game where there will be some pageantry, but the Steelers will be in no mood for any sentimentality. They may have lost some key pieces, namely the great Antonio Brown. But they have some youth coming around on both sides of the ball and maybe they got help in the draft. Ben Roethlisberger may be on borrowed time at 37 and things need to happen now. I expect this urgency to be reflected with both teams coming out with some fire for week one.

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Big Ben played all 16 games last season and is still putting up huge numbers. Brown is gone, but the weaponry is still effective. And they always seem to find the next big thing. A few of the young pieces already delivering are James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Conner missed some time and almost had 1000 yards on the ground, while snagging 55 balls. Smith-Schuster showed his chops last season with 1426 yards and will take the clear number-one guy with Brown departed. What's around him will play a big part. There are some decent pieces surrounding him with Ryan Switzer, newly-added Donte Moncrief, James Washington, TE Vance McDonald, and rookie WR Diontae Johnson. And how well that group of ball-catchers performs will say a lot about how this offense plays. Conner leads the run game and is a dynamic player in this offense who could also be on the way up. Making it really come together for all aspects of this offense is an offensive line that is very possibly the best in the AFC.

The Steelers added tenth overall pick Devin Bush to the mix and he might be a gem for this defense. They added Mark Barron to bolster the middle, with TJ Watt, Vince Williams, and Bud Dupree (questionable) already holding it down. They're in capable hands up front with Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and Javon Hargrave. They have horses in the secondary with corners Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Artie Burns, and Mike Hilton, along with safeties Terrell Edmunds and Sean Davis (questionable). It's a pretty capable group, solid in all areas. There are no stars perhaps, but it's a consistently-delivering unit that usually gets the job done. Last time these teams played, they held the Pats to ten points. The game before that, they lost by three points. Recently, anyway, the Steelers have more than held their own against the mighty Patriots.

Every season, there seems to be a salient case to project a downturn for the Pats and this season is no different. Reasons some might site include a rising league, Super Bowl hangovers, player turnover, or a rather drastic shift in their coaching staff. I wouldn't bet on it. They still have a big bulk of what got them yet another Vince Lombardi Trophy last season, with the erstwhile Brady leading the way, along with the mad scientist Belichick running the control panel. But let's see if they can overcome all the losses.

Brady will still work with some nice backs with young Sony Michel blossoming in this offense after a nice rookie season, with James White and Rex Burkhead providing production along the way. There are more questions in the pass-catching corps with Rob Gronkowski gone. And all things being equal, the package is pretty thin outside of Julian Edelman, who was a late addition to camp and might not quite be the Edelman we know right away after dealing with a broken thumb. Outside of him, it's guys like Philip Dorsett (questionable), Jakobi Meyers, and rookie K'Neal Harry (questionable). So it's Edelman, a first-round bust, and two rookies, one of which was an undrafted free agent leading the way—and even they're banged up. Now there is Josh Gordon, who is an asset, but might also need some time to round into shape. Even their next best tight end in veteran Benjamin Watson starts the season on the suspended list. The pass-catching corps will be good if Edelman and Gordon are in peak form, but that won't likely manifest in week one. Adding to the anxiety is that starting center David Andrews could be lost for the season. And while he hasn't been there for a lot of the camp, there's no doubting the chemistry he and Brady shared.

The Pats still have a lot of juice on "D" and it seems like Belichick and his staff always come up with the right schemes and personnel packages. They even added some manpower with Michael Bennett joining guys like Danny Shelton and Lawrence Guy up-front. They are very deep in the middle with Don't'a Hightower, Kyle Van Hoy, Jamie Collins, and others, depending on the situation. They are strong at corner with Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, and Jonathan Jones, with Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon at safety. And beyond just the identities of the different pieces is the system and philosophy behind it. The results speak for themselves.

As one paints the picture, though, it's easy to justify the stance that the Pats might need some more time to hit a top gear than Pittsburgh will. There are some voids on offense with a lot of youth and rookies being called upon to hit the ground running. Again, Brady has gone far with offenses that lacked real star-power before, but the offense is actually pretty bare heading into the opener. And Pittsburgh's defense is not one you want to be facing when looking to work all these different things out. I see the Steelers as being a good matchup with the Pats under ideal conditions, but with some of these issues, I see them hanging in there well. I'll take the Steelers and the number.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Pittsburgh Steelers plus 6 points. Bet the Pittsburgh vs. New England game for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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