The 2019 NFL schedule was released on Wednesday and it includes the Pittsburgh Steelers opening their regular season on the road against the New England Patriots, last year’s Super Bowl champions. Not surprisingly, the Patriots opened up as 6.5-point home favorites for that Week 1 game, according to vegasinsider.com.
The Steelers last opened up a regular season on the road against the Patriots in 2015 and that was a Thursday night game to kickoff that year’s regular season. Like this year, New England was the defending Super Bowl champions in 2015. The Steelers lost that game to the Patriots 28-21 as they couldn’t overcome tight end Rob Gronkowski scoring three touchdowns in that contest. Gronkowski, however, doesn’t figure to play in this 2019 regular season opener against the Steelers as he announced his retirement from the NFL in March.
While the Patriots look to move forward without having Gronkowski, they obviously will still have quarterback Tom Brady against the Steelers in Week 1, barring him missing that contest with an injury. Including one playoff game, Brady is 5-0 against the Steelers for his career in games played at home. In those five previous home games that he won against the Steelers, Brady was a combined 141 of 196 passing for 1,797 yards with 18 touchdown passes and 0 interceptions.
In addition to losing Gronkowski this offseason, the Patriots also said goodbye to wide receiver Chris Hogan, tackle LaAdrian Waddle, defensive tackle Malcom Brown, cornerback Eric Rowe, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, defensive end Trey Flowers and tackle Trent Brown as all seven players signed with other teams as free agents. New England did, however, acquire defensive tackle Michael Bennett this offseason via a trade and also signed free agents; wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, tackle Cedrick Lang, tight end Matt LaCosse, defensive tackle Mike Pennel, wide receiver Maurice Harris, safety Terrence Brooks, wide receiver Bruce Ellington, and running back Brandon Bolden.
For his career, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 1-4 in the games he’s played in on the road against the Patriots and that includes a 36-17 loss to New England in the 2016-2017 AFC Championship game. In those five games, Roethlisberger completed 121 of his 198 total pass attempts for 1,431 yards with 9 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
In addition to the Steelers trading away star wide receiver Antonio Brown and starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert this offseason, they also lost running back Le’Veon Bell and tight end Jesse James to other teams during free agency. They did, however, add few outside free agents of their own in linebacker Mark Barron, wide receiver Donte Moncrief and cornerback Steven Nelson.
The Steelers are 7-4-1 in regular season openers under head coach Mike Tomlin dating back to 2007, his first season in Pittsburgh. Last season, the Steelers played the Cleveland Browns to 21-21 overtime tie on the road in Week 1. The Steelers did beat the Patriots last season and that 17-10 home win came in Week 15.
The over/under for total points scored in the week 1 game between the Steelers and Patriots opened at 51.5.