The NFL season kicks off Thursday with the New England Patriots hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers in primetime. The Patriots opened as a 6.5 point favorite for the game way back before the team's off-season drama began, and now they are listed as a 7.5 point favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The point total is set at 52.5. The Pats are also 4-point favorites in the first half.
The Patriots finished 2014 at 11-8 against the spread. They are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 meetings with the Steelers, and 13-1 straight up in the last 14 games in which they were favored. The Steelers finished 2014 with a 9-8 ATS mark. They are 7-2 ATS in their last nine games as underdogs.
The total has gone OVER in six of the last eight meetings between these two teams according to the OddsShark NFL Database. As well, it has gone OVER in the Patriots' last five games against the AFC North, and in six of the Steelers' last eight September road games
The Steelers will be without center Maurkice Pouncey on Thursday, as he was placed on injured reserve with a return designation. Additionally, Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell is serving a two-game suspension, and wide receiver Martavis Bryant is serving a four-game suspension. The Steelers will look to Markus Wheaton to emerge in Bryant’s absence.
The Patriots will have quarterback Tom Brady leading the way in Thursday night's matchup after his four-game suspension was overturned in federal court. He will be without center Bryan Stork, who is recovering from a concussion and has been placed on injured reserve with the return designation.
Additionally, Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount is suspended for the game. Running back Travaris Cadet is listed as questionable, potentially leaving Brandon Bolden, Dion Lewis and James White to split work in the backfield.
Numerous season-long prop bets are available for players on both teams at the sportsbooks. Tom Brady has his interceptions total set at 10, passing yards at 4,300, and touchdown passes at 30. Rob Gronkowski totals include 11 receiving touchdowns and 1,000 receiving yards.