Patriots-Steelers Betting Preview: Believe in Brady Coming Off a Loss?

Patriots-Steelers Betting Preview: Believe in Brady Coming Off a Loss? article feature image
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USA Today Sports. Pictured: Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger

Betting odds: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Spread: Patriots -3
  • Over/Under: 52
  • Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS

>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets


Betting market: All signs point to Ben Roethlisberger playing, but the betting line is drastically different than last week’s lookahead line at the Westgate, which had the Steelers favored at -2.5.

When most books opened this game on Tuesday, the Pats were 1-point favorites. That has since risen to -3, as the Patriots are the most popular bet of the week with 77% of bets and 65% of the money as of writing (see live data here).

I’d expect some buyback on the Steelers now, especially with any further confirmation that Roethlisberger is healthy. Mark Gallant

Trends to know: The Patriots lost to the Dolphins on the final play of their Week 14 matchup. Since 2003, Tom Brady is 34-11 against the spread following a regular-season loss. John Ewing

This will be the Patriots’ second straight game away from Foxborough, but no quarterback has come close to achieving the success that Brady has had playing back-to-back road games.

Brady is 21-10-1 (67.7%) ATS in the second of two straight road games since 2003, covering by 6.5 points per game. When the Pats face an opponent with a record better than .500 in this spot, Brady is 16-4 (80%) ATS, covering by 12 points per game. Evan Abrams

The numbers behind TB12’s dominance: Brady has owned the Steelers throughout his career, exploiting their zone defensive schemes. Brady is 11-2 against the Steelers (including playoffs) with a 6-2 record at Heinz Field.

In the teams’ 10 regular-season meetings, Brady is 8-2 with 25 touchdowns, four interceptions and a 111.8 quarterback rating — the highest against any opponent not named the Atlanta Falcons.

And if you include the three postseason wins — all of which came in AFC Championship games — Brady has 30 touchdowns and only four interceptions in 13 career games against Pittsburgh. Stuckey

Did you know? There are not many more accomplished quarterbacks in the NFL than Brady and Ben Roethlisberger, and this is just the 11th time they’ll face each other. (Big Ben is 3-7 ATS in their meetings.)

Here’s how the two stack up against the spread. Abrams

Biggest mismatch: Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski vs. Steelers’ Interior Pass Defense

The Steelers can slap Joe Haden on Josh Gordon, and they don’t have to worry too much about Chris Hogan, who hasn’t caught more than two passes in a game since Week 7 or scored since Week 2.

What the Steelers had better be worried about is Edelman and Gronkowski rampaging through them over the middle.

We’re not likely to see the Steelers go with much man coverage. That’s where Edelman would have the edge against slot cornerback Mike Hilton, who has allowed 1.58 yards per route run compared to 0.85 for Haden and 1.01 for Coty Sensabaugh (per Pro Football Focus), while Gronk would see safety Morgan Burnett, who has allowed 16.4 yards per catch.

Gronk-Edelman
Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman

But overall, the Steelers rank just 27th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA on passes over the middle compared to 17th to the right and 19th to the left, so this has been a problem area for them all season, and Bill Belichick has multiple top-end talents he can use to exploit it. Chris Raybon

Which team is healthier? Patriots

The Patriots (somehow) managed to have every player achieve full participation in practice all week.

The Steelers will luckily have Roethlisberger (ribs), but James Conner (ankle) is shaping up as a game-time decision. The only other question marks are safety Sean Davis (knee), right tackle Marcus Gilbert (knee) and linebacker Anthony Chickillo (ankle).

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

DFS edge: The Steelers have been very particular about asking Haden to travel with their opponent’s No. 1 receiver. Only the best of the best have earned this “privilege” since Haden joined the team last season, and he’s mostly won battles against DeAndre Hopkins (4-65-1), Julio Jones (5-62-0), A.J. Green (7-85-0), John Brown (3-15-0) and Devin Funchess (3-32-0).

Haden’s shadow duties haven’t extended into the slot, as he’s spent just 14 snaps as the defense’s nickel back all season.

This schematic principle was exploited by Keenan Allen and the Chargers in Week 13, when Allen caught just three passes for 31 yards and a touchdown in Haden’s coverage, but 11-of-15 targets for 117 yards against everyone else.

However, Gordon has only run 10% of his routes from the slot since joining the Patriots. Flash has become somewhat matchup-proof with at least 70 yards and/or a touchdown in seven of his 10 games with New England, but Tre’Davious White (4-42-0) and Adoree’ Jackson (4-81-0) largely held Gordon in check during their respective shadow dates.

Another way to look at all of this: Edelman should smash. Edelman has posted 11-97-0, 9-60-0 and 8-118-1 lines against the Steelers in three matchups since 2015. Hartitz

Bets to watch

Steelers +3: Even with a banged up Big Ben, I had this game either being a pick ’em or Steelers -1.

It’s pretty clear that Roethlisberger is set to play this week. We already saw him return to the Week 14 game after suffering his rib injury to engineer a touchdown drive that was too little, too late.

This line just seems like an overreaction to the Steelers’ loss to the Raiders that likely wouldn’t have occurred if Big Ben played the entire game. Sean Koerner

Over 52: This has the highest over/under on Sunday’s slate. Both the Steelers and Patriots are top 10 in situation-neutral pace this season, and Roethlisberger and Brady are top eight in pass attempts.

Since 2013, the Steelers and Pats have played each other four times in the regular season. And with an average over/under of 49 points in those games, they’ve combined to score 57.25 points per game (per the RotoViz Team Splits App).

Since Antonio Brown’s first All-Pro campaign in 2014, the Steelers have had a 16-6 over/under record at home against non-divisional opponents with Roethlisberger at quarterback, which has been good for a 40.9% return on investment for over bettors (per our data at Bet Labs).

Against teams that don’t have the benefit of playing them two times per season, the Steelers tend to find themselves in shootouts at Heinz Field. Matthew Freedman


Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.