Pittsburgh Steelers vs New England Patriots: Odds and Predictions (NFL Week 1)
John Breech of CBS Sports takes the over and predicts the score as Patriots 30, Steelers 23. My prediction is take the over, final score Patriots 31, Steelers 20.
How to watch the Steelers vs the Patriots
What: Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots
When: September 8, 2019, at 8:20 p.m. ET
Where: Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts
How (TV): NBC
Latest Point Spread: Patriots -5.5, Steelers + 5.5
For the second time in five seasons, the Pittsburgh Steelers are scheduled to start their football year due east at Gillette Stadium, wherein five overall tries they have never beaten Tom Brady, the greatest NFL quarterback of all time, who at 42-years-young remains under center for the New England Patriots.
The Steelers have recently lost two of their best players – dual-threat running back Le’Veon Bell last season and deep threat wide receiver Antonio Bell this season – but Pittsburgh’s front office is convinced they have the young talent to step up, and they’ll get a chance to test that Juju theory this Sunday Night against a Gronk-less Patriots team who are fresh from another Super Bowl victory.
Let’s take a quick look at each of these teams now ready for the 2019 season.
The 0-0-0 Pittsburgh Steelers
The 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers could go either way this season – meaning they could definitely excel in their new offensive identity with Roethlisberger still under center, and instead of Bell and Brown there’s running back James Conner and receiver Juju Smith-Schuster with talented receiver Donte Moncrief sprinkled into the mix this offseason for good measure.
Plus the Steelers’ general manager Kevin Colbert finally drafted the missing piece to the defensive puzzle, Michigan inside linebacker Devin Bush, who will eventually serve as the quarterback on that side of the ball, a role that has remained unfilled since the career-ending spinal injury to Ryan Shazier.
Pittsburgh was 4-3 on the road last season, but here’s where they could go the ‘other’ way – they haven’t won in Gillette Stadium since 2008 when an injured Tom Brady forced the Patriots to start backup quarterback Matt Cassel, so don’t expect a win to come easy for the Steelers on Sunday night, especially after having to watch the enemy hoist their sixth Super Bowl Banner at the beginning of the game.
For more on the Steelers, take a look at the Pittsburgh Steelers Postseason Moves.
The 0-0-0 New England Patriots
Sure, the 2019 New England Patriots are without the best tight end in the league (retired Rob Gronkowski) and are being led by a 42-year-old who now does yoga on the sidelines (GOAT Tom Brady), but until the defending Super Bowl Champions actually start to decay and general manager slash head coach slash defensive coordinator slash football genius Bill Belichick finally hangs up his torn sweatshirt, don’t count this team out.
Especially at home in Gillette, where the Pats were undefeated last season (8-0) and where their home crowd makes so much noise for the opposing offense that they truly affect the outcome of the game.
Brilliant slot man Julian Edelman has returned, as has deep threat receiver Josh Gordon, and add in the hard-hitting two-headed backfield, Sony Michel and James White, and the latest version of the Patriots seems very capable of winning.
For more on the Patriots, have a look at the New England Patriots Postseason Moves.
What’s at stake?
These two teams have met 32 times (including 5 postseason games) and have split them evenly, with New England winning 16 of those games and Pittsburgh winning 16 games.
The Steelers won their matchup last season at home, but the Patriots have won 8 of the 10 meetings prior to that.
If the Steelers win this matchup, they’ll start the season 1-0-0 and get a necessary jump on their AFC North competition.
But if the Patriots come out winners, they’ll prove they are back for more and with a 1-0-0 record will begin their 2019 season up in front (once again) of the AFC East.
Questions to answer
Who’s favored to win this Week 1 Steelers-Patriots matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to compare the Steelers and the Patriots next and attempt to answer those questions and more.
Offensive stats comparison
Pittsburgh Steelers Overall Offense
- Ranked 4th overall in 2018
- Ranked TBD overall in 2019
Passing Attack: Ben Roethlisberger led the league in total passing yards after going 452-of-675 for 5,129 yards and 34 touchdowns with 16 interceptions, most in the league, but he did that with the help of receiver Antonio Brown, who is no longer with the team.
Last season, the Steelers passing offense was ranked 2nd after throwing for an average of 313.3 yards through the air and scoring 26.8 points per game.
The Pittsburgh offensive line did well to protect Roethlisberger, only allowing him to be sacked 53 times last season.
Rushing attack: Okay, maybe the Steelers don’t have running back Le’Veon Bell anymore, but they do have James Conner, a young third-year player who last year ran the ball 215 times for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns while catching 55 balls for 497 yards and a touchdown.
That said, the Steelers running game ranked a weak 31st in 2018 after averaging just 90.3 yards on the ground per game, an aspect of their offense they must improve on if they want to see the postseason again.
The Steelers also have a fullback on their offensive roster, Roosevelt Nix.
Pittsburgh Offensive Injuries
Listed as questionable for Week 1: no Steelers players are listed as injured for Week 1.
INJURY NOTE: N/A
New England Patriots Overall Offense
- Ranked 5th overall in 2018
- Ranked TBD overall in 2019
Passing Attack: Tom Brady may not make the most quarterback money or exhibit any quick dash or flash, but last season his Patriots had the eight best passing offense after averaging 266.1 yards through the air per game.
Brady didn’t have huge numbers in 2018 (375 completions for 4,355 yards and 29 touchdowns with 11 interceptions) but he still ranked 7th among his quarterbacking peers by the end of the season, so the question is – how long can he keep doing that?
Rushing Attack: The Patriots are no joke out of the backfield and tough to stop, the Michel-White tandem ranking 8th in the league last season after averaging 266.1 yards on the ground per game.
As a rookie last year, Michel ran 209 times for 931 yards and 6 touchdowns, while White, in his fifth NFL season, posted 1,176 total yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns.
New England offensive Injuries
Listed as questionable for Week 1: tight end Matt LaCosse (ankle) and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (hamstring).
INJURY NOTES: Wide receiver N’Keal Harry (ankle) was placed on injured reserve but is expected to return later in the season.
Wide receiver Cameron Meredith’s status is listed as OUT for an undisclosed reason.
Offensive advantage: New England Patriots
Defensive stats comparison
Pittsburgh Steelers Overall Defense
- Ranked 6th overall in 2018
- Ranked TBD overall in 2019
Pass coverage: The Steelers defense allowed 231.1 passing yards per game and were ranked 10th best in the league in pass coverage last season.
The Pittsburgh D sacked opponents’ quarterbacks 52 times, tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for the most in the league.
Run coverage: The Steelers allowed opponents to run for just 96.1 total yards per game and were ranked 6th overall in run defense.
The defense allowed opponents to score 22.5 points per game, 360 total points all season, and had just 8 total interceptions all season, 28th least in the 32-team league.
Steelers Defensive Players to watch
Linebacker T.J. Watt is a defensive monster, last season with 13.0 sacks along with 68 total tackles (12 for loss), 21 quarterback hits, 3 passes defended and 6 forced fumbles.
Cornerback Joe Haden is always fun to check out, last season having 2 interceptions, 12 passes defending, 63 tackles and a forced fumble.
This will be defensive end Cameron Heyward’s ninth season with the Steelers and his is always producing – last year with 51 tackles (10 for loss), 18 quarterback hits, 3 passes defended, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Steelers defensive injuries
Listed as questionable for Week 17: currently, no Steelers players are listed as injured.
New England Patriots Overall Defense
- Ranked 21st overall in 2018
- Ranked TBD overall in 2019
Pass coverage: The Patriots were only the 22nd best in the NFL in pass coverage in 2018 after allowing 246.4 passing yards per game.
New England’s D only sacked opponents’ quarterbacks 30 times, which was tied for the second-worst total in the league.
Run coverage: New England was 11th best against the run in 2018, allowing opponents to rush for an average of 112.7 yards per game.
Their defense allowed opponents to score 20.3 points per game, 325 total points all season, and posted 18 total interceptions in 2018, tied for third-most in the NFL.
Patriots Defensive Players to watch
Now in his first season with the Patriots, defensive end Michael Bennett will definitely wreak havoc, last season with the Philadelphia Eagles posting 9.0 sacks, 30 quarterback hits, 34 tackles (15 for loss), 1 pass defended and 2 forced fumbles.
The Patriots have a killer pair of safeties in the secondary you will want to keep your eyes on, Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty, both part of a 2018 passing defense that had 18 total picks, tied for third-most in the league.
Watch speedy cornerback Jason McCourty, who had 70 tackles last season, plus an interception and a forced fumble.
Patriots Defensive Injuries
Listed as questionable for Week 1: safety Obi Melifonwu (ankle)
INJURY NOTE: N/A
Defensive advantage: Pittsburgh Steelers
Special Teams Stats Comparison
Pittsburgh’s punter, Jordan Berry, is in his fifth NFL season, and last year he punted 63 times for a net average of 38.8 yards per punt, T-27th best in the league.
New England’s rookie punter, Jake Bailey, was drafted in the 5th round (163rd overall), and last year in college he punted 68 times for Stanford, averaging 44.1 yards per kick.
Pittsburgh’s placekicker Chris Boswell is a former Pro Bowler and is in his fifth season with the Steelers.
Boswell was 13-for-20 last season, his longest a 50-yarder, and he missed five extra-point attempts (43/48).
New England’s veteran placekicker, Stephen Gostkowski, has been the Patriots’ placekicker since the 2006 season.
Gostkowski was 27-for-32 last year, his longest a 52-yarder, and he missed one extra point attempt (49/50).
Pittsburgh’s punt returner, wide receiver Ryan Switzer, was ranked 29th in punt return average last season.
Switzer returned 30 punts for 252 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 8.4 yards per return, his longest for 23 yards.
New England’s punt returner, slot receiver Julian Edelman, was ranked 36th in the league in return average last year.
Edelman has returned 20 punts for 154 yards, averaging 7.7 yards per return, his longest for 25 yards.
>> SPECIAL TEAM ADVANTAGE: Both
Final Game Analysis
Why will the Steelers win this game?
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot to prove in 2019 after not making the playoffs last year for the first time in five seasons, and now that Big Ben has been properly paid and all that drama has left the facility, it is time for this AFC North powerhouse to return to all its glory.
And what better way to do that than to take the reigning Super Bowl Champs by surprise in their own house against an inferior defense and a relatively elderly quarterback who is bound to start out just a bit rusty at his age.
Expect that having to watch that newest Patriots Super Bowl banner being raised right before the game will be enough motivation for these Steelers, who are excellent on both sides of the ball, to take down their Week 1 opponent before Belichick knows what hit him.
Why will the Patriots win this game?
That’s an easy question to answer – the New England Patriots will win because their head coach, Bill Belichick, will spend all weak figuring out the Steelers’ strength and then teach his Brady-led team how to thoroughly neutralize said strength.
Chances are that will be Steelers’ speedy receiver Juju Smith-Schuster – so Pittsburgh will have to play this game without their biggest playmaker and that will be too much for their depleted offense and New England will just slowly add points to the board after all those punts they will be receiving.
The Patriots didn’t lose at Gillette all last season and they will continue on that roll in Week 1 of 2019 against the Steelers with old man Brady leading the way and the hometown crowd screaming and stomping all around him.
>> THIS GAME GOES TO THE: New England Patriots
Current odds listed for Week 1: Steelers vs Patriots
Check out the latest odds here.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: +188
- New England Patriots -235
- Patriots -5.5, Steelers + 5.5
- Total score over/under: 49.5
John Breech of CBS Sports takes the over and predicts the score as Patriots 30, Steelers 23,
My prediction is take the over, final score Patriots 31, Steelers 20