There is no better way to start an NFL season, than to have the defending Super Bowl champions kick it off in style. Whether that style is overshadowed by an “over-inflated” issue is still to be determined. It’s the New England Patriots and conference rival Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football. The only problem with this epic matchup is that this “Deflategate” nonsense seems to be ongoing with no end in sight.
If you’ve been paying attention to the news as of late, it’s become blatantly obvious that the Pats fearless leader is getting agitated. He doesn’t want to settle. He just wants this mess to be over and done with and to get back to playing the game that he loves. However, that simple hope of just playing football seems to be a light year away, based on all of the coverage this ridiculous case keeps getting.
With the team’s starting quarterback out of the lineup, the likeliness of the defending champs continuing their winning ways to start the year have taken a hit. NFL betting website TopBet.eu assumes Brady's absence in Week 1, giving them only a -3 advantage over the Steelers. Prior to the upheld suspension the line was -6 in the Pats favor.
Even -6 isn’t enough though considering Steelers starting running back Le’Veon Bell is suspended to start the 2015 season. Bell was an absolute star last season for Pittsburgh, running for 1,361 yards and matching his career high of 8 touchdowns.
It’s hard to predict what to expect from Brady’s replacement Jimmy Garoppolo this early. The preseason will likely be a nice indication but so far, he’s not turning oddsmakers heads. In fact, New England is the underdog against the New Orleans Saints in week two of the “mean nothing” season at +1.5.
It’s a pretty meaningless number and game, but considering the Saints are without Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham (traded to Seattle), along with 2014 sack leader Junior Galette (released by team), it could be considered slightly significant. Either way, whether Brady returns for week one or week five, expect the Patriots to make a heavy push for a second straight ring in 2015, where they are currently favored (+800) behind Seattle (+600) and Green Bay (+550).