The 2019 NFL season is here. Fantasy football drafts should be (nearly) wrapped up. Daily fantasy research is in full swing, and now we make our Sunday Night Football picks for a thrilling Week 1 matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots. Be sure to visit TheLines for a full breakdown of the odds and the on-field matchup.
In this weekly column at PlayPicks, we’ll be looking at the best bets to make for Sunday’s primetime matchup. Each week, we’ll look at the best moneyline, against the spread, and over/under bets while picking out the best prop of the week. For each bet, we’ll either “lean” or make a “pick.”
The latter is a solidified prediction for the outcome, which you can go ahead and bet at any point in the week. The former is a softer play and best reserved for only small wagers. Bettors will often need to closely monitor related news leading up to game time or wait for the line to move in the anticipated direction.
For example: “Team A is 4-0 to start the year and they’re my PICK to beat the 0-4 Team B.” vs. “Team A could be without WR Joe Blow this week, so they’re my LEAN for now, but be sure to follow the injury reports carefully and wait for the best number ahead of his official clearance.”
Sunday Night Football odds
Sunday Night Football picks: Moneyline
The Patriots have won five of their last six home openers dating back to 2012 when they lost to the Arizona Cardinals by a 20-18 margin in Week 2. The Steelers won two of their last three road openers but lost 28-21 to the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in 2015, the last time these two squads opened a season against each other. The reigning Super Bowl champions are still the better team on both sides of the ball, even after the retirement of tight end Rob Gronkowski.
New England is laying fairly heavy chalk ranging from -235 (DraftKings Sportsbook) to -245 (FanDuel Sportsbook). There isn’t enough value in the current number, so I’m leaning more toward the Steelers at +210 on FanDuel. There’s a reasonable chance the Patriots’ odds will rise to a more tolerable amount of chalk closer to Sunday evening. Therefore, I’d suggest waiting it out in hopes of a more appealing number on the home side.
Sunday Night Football picks: Against the spread
The spread is the best route for those wanting action on the champs. The number started out at -6 points but has come down to -5.5 nearly across the board, offering a little more insurance against a wonky push.
Three of the Patriots’ last four head-to-head wins over the Steelers dating back to 2015 were by at least seven points, including a 36-17 victory in the 2016 postseason. Just two of their last four season-openers resulted in a victory by at least seven points, but one of those included the 2015 matchup against the Steelers. New England is 50-30-3 ATS as a home favorite dating back to 2010. Meanwhile, the Steelers are 18-13-1 as a road ‘dog in a smaller sample.
The Patriots are the pick against the spread with FanDuel offering -110 odds on either side of the 5.5 points.
Sunday Night Football picks: Over/under
The total has fallen by as many as two points from an opening line of 51.5 to 49.5 on FanDuel. The number is creeping dangerously close to the cut-off point, but the pick will be the UNDER at -110.
The draw of the primetime spotlight and two of the nation’s favorite teams should push it back up by game time. The public will want to see touchdowns from these two AFC powerhouses. Still, just two of their last five meetings have topped the current number, and their 2015 season-opener came in at a combined total of 49. Again, it will likely prove most fruitful to wait this one out until the last minute to buy yourself as many points as possible against those trying to buy themselves some opening-week fireworks.
Sunday Night Football picks: Best prop
Winning Margin (5-point Bands): New England Patriots 6 to 10 (+450)
Get better value on the Patriots to cover the spread by picking the alternate line between the starting number and the start of double digits. The number is more profitable than both the cover on +5.5 (-110) and to win by 1 to 5 points (+440). Four of the Patriots’ last six head-to-head victories were by more than 10 points, but they haven’t won a season-opener by that margin since beating the Tennessee Titans 34-13 in 2012.
The Steelers’ two opening-week losses since 2012 were both by seven points, against the Patriots and a 16-9 loss to the Titans in 2013.