Time: 8:20 p.m. EST
Right on cue, disgruntled wide receiver Antonio Brown gets released from the Oakland Raiders early Saturday and then signs with the New England Patriots a few hours later – a day before they’re scheduled to take on his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Folks, the writers of General Hospital couldn’t come up with a better script than this. Well, perhaps they could have. Because of NFL rules, Brown won’t be permitted to suit up for this game since he signed after the 4 p.m. EST deadline.
Nonetheless, there’s an actual game to play on the field. We’ve got the two most successful franchises in the AFC over the last two decades going head to head for the umpteenth time.
This line opened with the Patriots as -7.5 favorites at Borgata Sportsbook, but the defending champs have since dropped to -5.5 due to some injuries and also some offseason additions for the Steelers. In addition, we’ve seen the total drop from 52.5 all the way down to 49.
Steelers Betting Form
At first glance, you might think the Steelers would take a step back losing players Antonio Brown and even Le’Veon Bell the year before. However, this is a team that continues to reload year after year. They’ve got a great shot of hanging tough with the Patriots. Running back James Conner and wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington leads a talented group of skill-players that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be able to get the ball to.
The Steelers’ defense has been revamped with new personnel and more of a man-to-man scheme, which is exactly the best way to beat the Patriots. In the last two meetings since switching to man, the Steelers won one game and the other was the infamous “Jesse James fumble” debacle, which they should have won.
Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin is 22-13 ATS as a road underdog, behind tonight’s coaching counterpart and Andy Reid. With all the distractions out of their locker room, look for Tomlin to fire the boys up once again and have them ready to play.
Patriots Betting Form
What else can we say about Tom Brady and the Patriots that hasn’t been said already? This guy continues to get it done no matter who is on his team, but it might come a little harder in this matchup. The Pats will be without David Andrews for the season, and they’ll be short at tight end with Ben Watson and Lance Kendricks suspended.
Also, we can probably expect a heavy running attack from the Steelers. The best way to keep Brady off the field is to have the other offense on the field. Not to mention, it’s much easier to run against the Patriots than it is to pass.
Betting Pick: Steelers (+3)
A lot of sharps have been on the Steelers when this number was higher. Yet we still think this has the potential to be a field-goal game one way or the other. The Steelers look like they’ll benefit from having a drama-free locker room for once. This is something you definitely need a focused mind heading into Foxborough.