Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0) at New England Patriots (0-0)
I hate to start the regular season off with a no confidence pick, but I think that’s where I’m going here. I think Pittsburgh is overrated, after having the 4th fewest adjusted games lost to injury last season, including the fewest on offense. Their offense won’t be as good as it was last season, when they ranked 3rd in rate of moving the chains, especially early in the season as they are already without stud running back LeVeon Bell for 2 games with suspension, promising young wide receiver Martavis Bryant for 4 games with suspension, and Pro-Bowl caliber center Maurkice Pouncey for at least 2 months with a broken leg. Meanwhile, on defense, things should be bad once again.
However, I don’t love the Patriots in this game or anything. They have their own issues and also won’t be the same time this season. Tom Brady’s suspension for DeflateGate was thrown out in federal court, but Brady is still going into his age 38 season and their secondary remains a huge issue, following the loss of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Kyle Arrington this off-season. They also have their own key absences as wide receiver Brandon LaFell and center Bryan Stork will both miss at least a month with injury, while LeGarrette Blount is suspended for this game, leaving the Patriots’ thin on talent around Brady. I’d pick them if I had to and it’s worth noting that over the last 11 instances of a defending Super Bowl champion playing week 1 on a Thursday at home, they’ve won all 11 times and gone 8-3 ATS, but I’m not confident with them as touchdown favorites.
New England Patriots 30 Pittsburgh Steelers 20
Pick against the spread: New England -7