Early NFL ATS Picks: Even Without Brady, Patriots' Defense Gives them the Edge Over Steelers

Jordan Sharp

Monday, June 1, 2015 2:59 PM GMT

Monday, Jun. 1, 2015 2:59 PM GMT

Believe it or not we are only three months away from the start of the NFL season, and even though we are still a ways away from the season, it’s time to start thinking about our Week 1 NFL Picks. So with what we know now, who has the value heading into opening night?

Lack of stars?
By now if you haven’t heard, (maybe you’ve been living under a rock or stranded on a desert island without communication) Tom Brady might miss the first few games of the season. While it’s currently four, the appeals process is ongoing, but it seems almost certain that at the very least, Brady won’t be in uniform for the first game, and the young, Eastern Illinois product, Jimmy Garoppolo will be under center. Reports out of Patriots OTAs are that he and Brady are splitting first team reps, so this game likely won’t be like Garoppolo is coming in without reps like most backup QBs do. Plus, Garoppolo is a solid QB. Even though he has yet to start a regular season game, reports from Boston say that he is throwing the ball well, and he seems to be making positive decisions.

Speaking of potentially lacking stars, one of the big reasons I think that the Steelers aren’t considered favorites on the NFL odds in this one could be the pending suspension of Le’Veon Bell. The Steelers running back was charged with DUI and possession last offseason, however the suspension didn’t come down until this offseason. Bell is currently appealing his three-game suspension, and there is optimism that it could be softened, but he too will likely be watching this game from home. The sportsbooks recognize Bell’s importance to the team, because even with Brady likely sitting out too, the Patriots are still -2 ½ favorites in this game.

Must read: Is there perceived value to any NFL odds for week 1?

The Early Sharp ATS Pick
The Steelers were solid on the road last season, and in their last seven road games, the Steelers were 5-2 SU. However, they were only 4-4 ATS on the road in 2014, and 2-2 ATS as road underdogs. While they were 6-4 ATS in non-divisional games, the Steelers and Patriots haven’t played since 2013, and it wasn’t pretty for Pittsburgh. New England was the home team in that one as well, and the Patriots dropped 55 points on Pittsburgh. These two teams are pretty different than in 2013, and the Steelers’ defense still has plenty of question marks.

Troy Polamalu has since retired, they lost Ike Taylor, and even though Pittsburgh was able to bring back Will Allen at strong safety, and they still have starter, Mike Mitchell, the secondary depth is going to be young this season for the Steelers. This may not be so bad later in the season with some reps and experience, but early in the first game of the season, I can’t see the Steelers winning this one. The Patriots also lost their two starting cornerbacks last season, but overall their defense is still better than Pittsburgh’s. As of today I am leaning towards the Patriots for my NFL picks, even with Garoppolo as the starter, I see the young QB having solid success while Brady is out.

NFL Pick: Patriots -2 ½ at BetOnline

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