NFL Thursday Night Football Preview & Free Pick- Week 1
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots
Pointspread: New England -7
Total Line: 51
The long wait for another season of football in the NFL is almost over as the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots prepare to kick-off the 2015 regular season this Thursday night at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Game time is set for 8:30 p.m. (ET) and it will be broadcast nationally on NBC.
The Steelers are coming off a solid 11-5 straight-up run to the AFC North title in 2014, but their season ended abruptly with a disappointing 30-17 loss to rival Baltimore as three-point home favorites in the Wildcard Round of the playoffs. This loss snapped a perfect 4-0 run both straight-up and against the spread to close-out the regular season. The total ended as a PUSH against the Ravens after staying UNDER in their previous three games.
The big concern for Pittsburgh heading into Thursday night is the loss of running back Le’Veon Bell due to a two-game league suspension. To try and beat the Patriots as underdogs, the Steelers will turn to veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and a passing game that was ranked second in the NFL last season with an average of 302 yards per game. Leading the way was wide receiver Antonio Brown, who also led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,698.
New England’s 2014 run ended with a Super Bowl title after beating Seattle 28-24 as a one-point underdog. The Patriots went 6-1 SU (4-3 ATS) in their last seven games as part of an overall record of 15-4 SU on the year. The total stayed UNDER in six of their last nine games in 2014.
The Patriots were in the media spotlight for most of the preseason, but for all the wrong reasons. Quarterback Tom Brady’s recent battle against the NFL to appeal a four-game suspension proved to be successful, but it remains to be seen at what cost given that he threw just 22 passes in four preseason games. You would have to believe that he will be carrying some rust into Thursday night’s contest. New England will still be without running back LeGarrette Blount (suspension) and wide receiver Brandon LaFell (injury) for this season opener.
The betting public appears to be jumping all over New England with the return of Brady to the starting lineup, but I see this matchup as an excellent chance to capitalize of some solid value in Pittsburgh. They may not pull-off the SU upset, but look for the Steelers to keep things closer than seven points.
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