“It’s back to football.”

Every year, that little phrase gets me that much more pumped up for the NFL season. It’s simple. It’s direct. And more importantly, it signifies that NFL opening night is right around the corner!

In this case, the 2015 NFL season finally kicks off in Foxboro, Massachusetts, where the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots will welcome the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers in what should be a battle of powerhouse offenses.

Tom Brady should be especially fired up come Thursday night, as he comes off the heels of a stunning victory in federal court last week that saw his original 4-game suspension over his role in the “Deflategate” scandal reduced to zero games. The man who issued his original suspension, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, will not be in attendance for the game.

The mighty Patriots will dominate the headlines for most of this week leading up to the game, but that shouldn’t mean the betting public should count the Steelers out just yet. What Pittsburgh may lack in defensive maturity they more than make up for with their fast-paced, in your face offensive scheme that should excel against a weakened Patriots secondary, who lost cornerback Darrelle Revis and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork to free agency this past offseason.

Betting on the Pittsburgh Steelers to cover the spread

Current Steelers lines (subject to change)

+6.5 (-105) at SportsBetting.ag >> 50% instant bonus up to $500
+7 (-105) at Bovada.lv >> 50% instant bonus up to $250
+6.5 (20/21) at Bet365.com >> WCD’s best international bookie

Most sports betting sites online saw the spread for the Steelers shift pretty dramatically once the news of Tom Brady’s overturned suspension became public knowledge. However, to think they’re completely out of this game before it even starts is somewhat crazy.

The Steelers bring back to the field a top-flight offense that was top 5 in efficiency and total yardage last season. Ben Roethlisberger threw for nearly 5,000 yards during that campaign and his #1 offensive weapon, wide receiver Antonio Brown, also led the league in receiving yards. With offensive coordinator Todd Haley and Big Ben finally clicking with Haley’s newly revamped offense they should be able to complicate the Patriots lives on defense with a wide array of power runs with Deangelo Williams, as well as bubble screens, quick slants and deep ball patterns to Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton.

Unfortunately, they will be without the services of elite running back Le’Veon Bell and rising superstar wideout Martavis Bryant for this game, which is an absolute crushing blow to the Black and Gold. Both are serving 2- and 4-game suspensions, respectively, for violations of the league’s substance abuse policy in the offseason. This coupled with losing their Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey for most of the year to injury will complicate things a bit more than usual for the Steelers in their season opener.

As of right now, betting the Steelers to cover is a somewhat “iffy” proposition, even at a generous +7 (-105) at Bovada.lv. Other sportsbooks are giving them 6.5 points (SportsBetting.ag and Bet365.com) but even those lines aren’t helping anyone’s cause. I think with the Steelers at less than full-strength is a disaster waiting to happen against a Pats squad at full-strength and a very motivated passer like Tom Brady.

If you’re looking for an alternative wager to betting the Steelers point spread then it’s worth noting that SportsBetting.ag has the O/U at 52. Bet on the OVER 52 (-110) with confidence, as the Patriots have been known to throw up 40+ points a game at home just by themselves.

New England Patriots spread bet options on NFL Opening Night

Current Patriots lines (subject to change)

-6.5 (-115) at SportsBetting.ag >> $50 FREE mobile bet
-7 (-115) at Bovada.lv >> Get up to $250 added INSTANTLY
-6.5 (20/23) at Bet365.com >> WCD’s best international bookie

Betting the Patriots at -6.5 at SportsBetting.ag or Bet365.com is one hell of line right now and something I would lean towards as a bettor (or “punter” for all you awesome Europeans out there), despite media outlets like ESPN and Fox Sports saying the Steelers will not go quietly into the night in Foxboro and might even steal a victory Thursday night.

I’ll go on the record and just say it: It’s NOT happening.

With the Pats’ veteran signal caller back with a fully-loaded offense that features the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Jonas Gray and Julian Edelman, I would be surprised to see the Steelers keep up with them for all 4 quarters. It’s not to say the Steelers won’t keep it interesting early, but let’s face it, Tom Brady has a way of wearing opponents of his down in the second halves of games.

Now as I mentioned above, the Steelers are going into this game only half-loaded on offense. With their All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey gone, Pittsburgh will have a tough time containing blitzes and picking up much needed blocks in the trenches. The Patriots don’t have a stellar defense by any stretch of the imagination but they still have the ability to get to Big Ben and will throw a lot of cover 2 and cover 3 options his way to limit any homerun balls Roethlisberger might be thinking about throwing to his stud wide receivers.

Last but not least, there’s Tom Brady. Yea, THAT Tom Brady. Forget the fact the guy may go down as the greatest quarterback in the history of the league. This is a man driven by a competitive fire few people can match in the NFL today. The “Deflategate” suspension being overturned was the single worst thing the Steelers could ask for this week. Mainly because the decision will fuel the wild crowds at Gillette Stadium that much more and light a fire under Tom Brady that fans haven’t seen since he was kicking around opponents en route to leading his team to a perfect regular season in 2007.

Bet the Patriots -6.5 (-115) with confidence at SportsBetting.ag, where you can score a free $50 mobile bet and earn a 50% instant bonus of up to $500 on your first deposit.