A sigh of relief. The first Sunday of football season is finally upon us. After a long offseason chock-full of insanity, we finally are at the point where we get real games. Amongst the full slate, Sunday Night Football features two titans in the AFC when the Steelers travel north to take on the Patriots. Storylines are aplenty in this one, as Pittsburgh/New England games always are.
Josh Gordon’s Return
It was not that long ago when Josh Gordon was selling cars outside of Cleveland after getting suspended. Five years, multiple failed drug tests, and a new team later, it seems that Flash is finally on the right track. After being reinstated (again) by Roger Goodell, Gordon will take the field Sunday night for his first game since December 16th of last season. When he was on the field last year with Tom Brady, the two seemed to have good chemistry. In his short 11 game season, he caught 40 balls for 720 yards and 3 touchdowns. If he kept up that pace for a full season, he’d be close to 60 catches and over 1,000 yards with a handful of touchdowns.
That could be absolutely lethal on the outside with Julian Edelman already being a borderline 1,000-yard receiver himself. And that’s what this New England team comes down to– What does this offense look like in the new post-Gronkowski era? There’s no bonafide tight end anymore, especially with the Ben Watson suspension. Even when he comes back, what can you expect out of the 38-year-old? There are questions about the offensive line– especially after trading a 6th round pick for Russ Bodine and releasing him a week later. And what happens in the backfield? They drafted Sony Michel last year, Damien Harris this year, all while having James While and Rex Burkhead.
Killer B’s are Killed
There was a time where Antonio Brown wasn’t a (public) nutcase and Le’veon Bell was the star back in Pittsburgh. All while being led by Big Ben. Those three led the Steelers to a fair amount of success. But this will be the first season without Bell, whose in New York, or Brown, who should be headed to a McDonalds. JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner proved last season that they can handle the load. JuJu went over 1,400 yards and Conner scored 12 rushing touchdowns.
The Steelers did have the 6th best defense last season in terms of total yards. And with all the talk around the Browns and Ravens, people seem to be forgetting just how good the Steelers are.
Sportsbook has this game as Patriots -5.5 and the over/under set at 49. If were using 49 as the threshold, New England only went over that mark four times in 2018. Their games were usually pretty low scoring affairs. However, 10 of their 11 wins were by 6 points or more (over the 5.5 point spread). Steelers games tend to be more high scoring, as they went over the 49 point mark seven times. And, when they lose the games tend to be close. Of the 7 games they did not win in 2018, 4 of them were within the 5.5 point mark. The Steelers/Patriots game last season ended in a 17-10 Steelers win, for those keeping track at home.
The Pick: Steelers +5.5, Under 49