Tom Brady has dodged the bullet, and now he may be facing considerably less of a challenge against a somewhat retooled defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers. But can his own New England Patriots teammates keep Big Ben off the board? This is all intriguing stuff, and helps to construct the backstory behind the NFL season opener, which is slated to kick off at 8:30 PM ET on Thursday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA. With Live Betting Extra, customers of BetAnySports can continue to place wagers all throughout the contest, as it is happening.
After the Patriots took a sizable fine and surrendered a couple of draft choices over the “Deflategate” issue, Brady appealed the four-game suspension he received as a result. It was long and drawn out, but he finally prevailed over the NFL in court. In the meantime, Jimmy Garoppolo had been preparing just in case he was going to be called upon.
But the Pats now have an even greater opportunity to win their seventh straight division title, although they will go forward in this game without running back LaGarrette Blount, who is suspended for a marijuana arrest he had last year.
In the reduced juice NFL betting lines that have been established on the game at BetAnySports, the Patriots are laying a full touchdown (including the 32-yard extra point):
New England Patriots -7 (-105)
Pittsburgh Steelers +7 (-105)
Under 52 points -107
Over 52 points -103
It looks as if the Patriots will go with the “committee” approach in the backfield for this game, and that includes Brandon Bolden. But it does NOT include Jonas Gray, who had 201 yards in a game against the Indianapolis Colts last year, but later wound up in trouble for missing practices. He’s been cut and already found a spot with the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad.
Brandon Lafell, a receiver who was expected to make big strides this season, is on the Physically Unable to Perform List, and Reggie Wayne was released. So the “smurfs” like Julian Edelman will continue to play a prominent role, as will the “elephants” like the tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and 6’7″ Scott Chandler.
BetAnySports patrons should be mindful that the Steelers will have to go two games without Le’Veon Bell, who was involved in that same marijuana arrest with Blount (who was with Pittsburgh at the time). This is a guy who had over 2200 yards from scrimmage last year, producing 35% of the team’s offense. Without his dual rushing-receiving threat, the Steelers looked lost in their first-round playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens. DeAngelo Williams, who spent nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers, will try to pick up some of that slack.
News flash – Dick Lebeau is no longer part of the defensive picture with the Steelers. He pre-dated Mike Tomlin’s tenure there, but was let go in the off-season, with linebacker coach Keith Butler taking over as the stop unit’s coordinator. Will Pittsburgh continue to hit opponents with zone blitzes at a dizzying rate? They won’t have the likes of Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor or Jason Worilds as they forge ahead, as they are all gone. So it is the “youth infusion,” as Butler says his team is committed to getting more speed on that side of the ball.
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