Ground bearing clearance

Focus on early season rush could mean lower score

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) delivers the ball to running back Damien Harris (37) against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in Miami Gardens, Florida . AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

The New England Patriots are hoping to bounce back from a 20-7 Week 1 loss to the Dolphins. New England were negligent with the football as they turned the ball over three times in the game.

A turnover was a fumble inside the 10-yard line resulting in a Dolphins defensive touchdown. Another was an interception on the Patriots’ first drive that came just outside the red zone.

Next up for the Patriots is a trip to Pittsburgh, where they will face the Steelers. Pittsburgh had a completely different experience than New England in Week 1, as they benefited from five turnovers by the Cincinnati Bengals. It should be noted that 17 of Pittsburgh’s 23 points came after the Bengals’ turnovers.

NFL Patriots vs. Steelers pick

Total ALT less than 41.5 (-125)

I’m interested to see if turnovers will play a big role in the Week 2 game between the Steelers and Patriots. And with both offenses looking somewhat shaky to start the season, it might be worth considering playing this game under.

Patriots vs. Steelers NFL Odds

Odds provided by BetMGM

Spread: NE -2 (-110) against PIT +2 (-110)

Moneyline: NE (-135) vs PIT (+110)

Total: More than 40.5 (-115) | Less than 40.5 (-110)

It’s hard to accurately model the NFL this early in the season with just a week’s worth of data. Whether your benchmarks include yards per point, points per play, or yards per point, chances are you’ll find your projections skewed.

Instead, it’s best to trust your pre-season analysis of these teams while adjusting accordingly until proven otherwise. For example, the Patriots entered this season with a ton of questions:

  • Who is leading the offense?
  • Who manages the call of the game?
  • How will this partnership, Joe Judge and Matt Patricia, coexist?

And based on what we saw in Week 1, we can even add if quarterback Mac Jones regresses in his sophomore year. I know it’s only one game, but Jones had the worst total QBR of any quarterback in the league. Joe Flacco of the Jets even had a better total QBR than Jones. If Patriots fans aren’t pressing the panic button yet, I have to think it’s within reach. In Week 2, Jones will face a solid Steelers defense that is always ready to fight under the guidance of head coach Mike Tomlin.

I know the Steelers were a little lucky considering the 432 yards they gave up against the Bengals. But we’ve seen that before with Pittsburgh’s defensive style that bends but doesn’t break. If we turn to their offense, Pittsburgh had 267 yards and still won the game as quarterback Mitch Trubisky completed just 21 of 38 passes for 194 yards. The fact that Trubisky threw the ball 38 times is a bit of a concern as the Steelers only ran the ball 22 times while never trailing in the game.

On Sunday, look for Pittsburgh to make a concerted effort to get its running game going. That they succeed is the least of my worries as long as it eats away at the game clock.

It won’t surprise me if we see a conservative game plan from both head coaches to advance their offenses. I think the points will be valuable in this contest because the previous four meetings in Pittsburgh have gone under.

The total is also on a 4-0 under streak in New England’s last four games in September. This trend supports the narrative that the Patriots often use the first month of the season as an extended training camp before their offense begins.

Finally, I looked at how the total went with an opening count of no more than 42.5 points in a game started by Trubisky.

Our Action Labs database shows the set is 15-7 at least for 6.77 units. The total being below the critical number of 41, I recommend buying it up to 41.5 and taking the least at BetMGM.

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