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Matchups Week 2: Patriots vs. Steelers

Patriots vs. Steelers
Sep 11, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (25) celebrates an interception during the fourth quarter of a Week 1 NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots (0-1) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0)

Spread: Steelers +1.  

Game Total: 41.

Team Totals: Steelers (20), Patriots (21).

Weather: Outdoors, no current concerns.

The Line Report

  •         This line opened as Steelers +1.
  •         This line has moved to Steelers +2.5.
  •         DraftKings Pick’Em has the Steelers +1.5.
  •         Circa Sports Millions Pro Football Contest has the Steelers +2.
  •         This total opened at 41-points.
  •         This total moved slightly down to 40.5 points as of Thursday.

Notable Injuries

Steelers: Edge T.J. Watt (IR), C Mason Cole (Questionable).

Patriots: RB Ty Montgomery (IR), QB Mac Jones (Questionable), LT Trent Brown (Questionable), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (Questionable).

The Steelers Offense vs. the Patriots Defense

Pittsburgh has a bottom-tier offensive line, while New England has an average front four with an impact edge rusher in Matthew Judon. From a macro sense, this is a relatively even trench matchup, but Judon could be a real problem for the Steelers.

The Patriots have enjoyed strong secondary play for most of this century. That said, this New England cornerback group is weaker than usual. The Steelers’ group of young, talented wide receivers doesn’t represent a game-breaking mismatch, but they have an edge here from a pure talent standpoint.

Notes and Observations

  • The Steelers are 1-0 against the spread this season.
  • The Steelers are 0-1 on overs this season.
  • Per The Edge, Mitch Trubisky was 27th in play-action pass percentage on opening day.
  • Among opening day starters, Trubisky was 11th in air yards per attempt.
  • The Patriots allowed the second-fewest rushing yards and the seventh most receiving yards to running backs on opening day.
  • New England surrendered the eighth-most receiving yards on the ninth-most receptions to wide receivers in Week 1.
  • You could argue that New England’s Week 1 opponent, the Dolphins, has the best wide receiver duo in the sport in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.
  • The Patriots allowed the seventh-fewest receiving yards on the sixth-fewest receptions to tight ends in Week 1. 

The Patriots Offense vs. the Steelers Defense

New England has a fringe top-ten offensive line. At full strength, the Steelers have a top-of-the-food-chain front, as we saw on opening day against the Bengals. Now that Pittsburgh is down reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt, we should treat this trench matchup as a relative draw.

Notes and Observations

  • The Patriots are 0-1 against the spread this season.
  • The Patriots are 0-1 on overs this season.
  • Per The Edge, Mac Jones was 29th in play-action pass percentage on opening day.
  • Among opening day starters, Jones was tenth in air yards per attempt.
  • The Steelers allowed the 14th most rushing yards and the second most receiving yards to running backs in Week 1.
  • Pittsburgh allowed the seventh most receiving yards on the third most receptions to opposing wide receivers on opening day.
  • Pittsburgh allowed the third most PPR points to perimeter wide receivers on opening day.
  • That figure was driven by Ja’Marr Chase’s 10-129-1 line on 16 targets. The Patriots do not have a wide receiver in the same stratosphere as Chase.
  • Pittsburgh gave up the 14th most receiving yards on the seventh most receptions to tight ends on opening day.

This is What You’re Betting On in Patriots vs. Steelers

A bet on the Steelers is a bet on a consistent, physical football team coming off an upset win over the Bengals. The Steelers’ dominant defensive effort drove that victory. If you’re betting on Pittsburgh here, you’re betting on a similar performance against New England, despite T.J. Watt missing the contest due to injury. I have a few concerns about any Steelers bet. First, you’re effectively betting on Mitch Trubisky against a Bill Belichick defense. There are several paths to that going sideways. The second is that the Steelers are coming off an overtime victory where they upset their division rival that was the runner-up in last year’s Super Bowl.

A bet on the Patriots is a bet on a Bill Belichick team bouncing back after being relatively dominated in Miami last week. A bet on New England is a bet on a flawed roster playing its second road game in as many weeks. Mac Jones didn’t play particularly well in Miami, and he’s on the injury report with a back ailment. A bet on New England is a bet on Jones being more consistent in the second game of the season than he was in Miami.

Patriots vs. Steelers Pool Picks

Winner/ Confidence Pool: This contest should be treated as a coin flip game in winner pools. Regardless of which side you take, we can reasonably expect this to be a physical, defensive-minded football game. Whichever side I go with in this matchup, they will be towards the bottom of my confidence pool rankings.

Spread Pool: I will consider taking the Patriots at a slight value in the DraftKings Pick’Em pool.

Survivor: This contest should be avoided for survivor purposes.