The New England Patriots will begin the quest to defend their Super Bowl title from last year when they square off with the Pittsburgh Steelers on what has become the traditional Thursday night opener of the National Football League season. Both teams will be missing some key players though. It looked as if New England would have to start week 1 without All-Pro quarterback Tom Brady for the first four games of the season due to the "DeflateGate" scandal in which the Patriots were accused of tampering with game balls during last year's AFC playoffs however that will not be the case. Brady will be suited up and behind center for Thursday's season opener after Judge Richard Berman nullified the NFL's imposed suspension last week. As a result, Pittsburgh Steelers vs New England Patriots odds in Vegas currently favor Brady and the Pats at home by a touchdown (-7) while NFL predictions have the over/under total posted at 52½.
Offseason suspensions have also affected the Pittsburgh Steelers who will play without star running back Le’Veon Bell. The third-year pro was suspended for an arrest on drug charges prior to last season. Initially, Bell was to miss three games, but the suspension was reduced to the first two contests of the 2015 season. Without Bell, the Steelers will work former Carolina RB DeAngelo Williams more. Williams was added in the offseason to give Pittsburgh some added depth at the position. Behind Williams, the Steelers have the speedy Dri Archer and rookie Josh Harris. Another major factor playing into Pittsburgh Steelers vs New England Patriots odds is the fact that WR Martavis Bryant, who is expected to have a breakout second season, will also miss the week 1 opener on Thursday due to suspension.
The 6-4 Bryant has 4.4 speed and has had a great training camp. It was found that he violated the league’s substance abuse policy and will miss the first four games of the season. Still, the Steelers offense will revolve around quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the passing game as it did a year ago. Roethlisberger led the NFL in passing yards a year ago and WR Antonio Brown led the league in receiving yards. The bigger question in NFL predictions for those betting on Pittsburgh Steelers vs New England Patriots odds is how the once vaunted "terrible towels" defense will respond without its architect, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau who is now in Tennessee, and without former stars Troy Polamalu and Jason Worilds, both of whom retired. The week 1 season opener (Thursday, September 10th) between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots can be seen live on NBC at 8:30pm EST from Gillette Stadium.