Against the Spread Pick
The defending champion New England Patriots will host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football. The Steelers are coming off a tumultuous season, and they’ve finally got rid of the two clouds hanging over the franchise in Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Now that the distractions are gone, Pittsburgh can finally get back to playing football. They still have a solid receiving corp led by JuJu Smith-Schuster, they still have a great offensive line, they still have a good young running back in James Conner, and they still have a Hall of Fame quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers were a big disappointment in 2018, but I think that had more to do with all the drama than anything else. This team should be much improved, and they have exciting talent at every position. The Patriots had a lot of turnover from their Super Bowl winning squad. They parted ways with defensive coordinator Brian Flores and a slew of other assistant coaches. They also lost star defensive end Trey Flowers and starting left tackle Trent Brown, as well as legendary tight end Rob Gronkowski. At the very least, the Steelers will keep this one close.
Over Under Pick
I also like the under a lot here. It’s a primetime game in the first week of the season, and both offenses should be rusty. Brady doesn’t have Gronkowski anymore and he also will have a left tackle making his first career NFL appearance. Making matters even worse, Patriots starting center David Andrews was recently sidelined by blood clots. As such, I think Brady’s protection could be subpar here. The Steelers lost their highly regarded offensive line coach Mike Munchak this summer, so Big Ben’s protection could suffer as well. Both pass-rushes should have some success.