For the first time since 2019, the New England Patriots (-2) will take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. After a Week 1 loss, New England will look get into the win column for the first time this season, which they are projected to do on the DraftKings Sportsbook. After opening as a 1.5-point favorite, the Patriots now sit as 2-point favorites as they travel to Pittsburgh. The game features a total of just 40.5, the second lowest projected total across the board this weekend.
Here are five bets to keep an eye on throughout the Week 2 matchup.
Receptions for Rhamondre
Rhamondre Stevenson's work in the passing game received heavy praise from Bill Belichick during the offseason. The sophomore running back also noted it was an area of focus for him throughout the spring and summer. Stevenson had a quiet opener in general against Miami, playing just 14 offensive snaps. He did, however, haul in both of his targets.
Against Pittsburgh, New England will need to replace Ty Montgomery's production (three receptions on four targets) after the versatile back found himself on the injured reserve earlier this week. That should mean more work for both Stevenson and fellow running back Damien Harris on the ground and in the air. Pittsburgh struggled covering Cincinnati running back's Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine last week, as the duo combined to record 10 receptions on 14 targets.
The pick: Rhamondre Stevenson Over 2.5 receptions (+110)
No Room for Najee
The Pittsburgh Steelers dished out $72 million remodeling their offensive line this offseason, while also naming their fourth offensive line coach in the past 24 months. The early dividends have not payed off. While the unit was a benefactor of quarterback Mitch Trubisky getting the ball out quick in the passing game, they struggled in Week 1 against D.J. Reader and the Cincinnati Bengals run defense.
The dynamic second-year back Najee Harris - and backup Jaylen Warren - found little room on the ground. The duo combined for just 30 yards on 13 attempts (2.3 yards per carry), recording just one total yard before contact on the day, according to Pro Football Focus. Things will likely continue to be a challenge on the ground against New England this week, who allowed just 2.8 yards per carry against Miami in Week 1.
To make matters worse, Harris suffered a foot injury last Sunday that has left him limited in practice this week. While the back claims he's good to go and was a full participant in practice on Thursday, it would be no surprise if he surrenders a fair share of carries to the rookie Warren this week.
The pick: Najee Harris Under 57.5 rushing yards (-115)
It was a quiet NFL debut for Steelers rookie receiver George Pickens last Sunday. Pickens cemented himself as Pittsburgh's third receiver, playing 45 snaps and running 37 routes. The play time did not result in production however, as the former Georgia Bulldog hauled in just one of three targets for three yards, despite being shadowed by Bengals cornerback Eli Apple in man-to-man coverage for the majority of the game.
The 6-foot-3 Pickens in known for his deep-ball skills, but half of Mitch Trubisky's 38 throws in Week 1 traveled 5 yards or less downfield. And when he did air it out there was little success. Of his seven attempts of 20-plus yards in the air, he completed just two. Trubisky was also 0-for-3 on passes that went over 30 yards downfield.
If New England plays a similar defensive style they did against Miami in Week 1, they will play plenty of zone coverage - which limited the Dolphins to just two deep completions. The Patriots pass rush limited Miami's ability to push the ball downfield, something that could carry over against the remodeled Steelers front. With Trubisky looking to get the ball out quick and take care of the football, Pickens could be in for another quiet game.
The pick: George Pickens Under 30.5 receiving yards (-115)
Folk Strikes First
A common theme from Patriot players and head coach Bill Belichick after Week 1 was that the team struggled to finish drives against Miami - evident of their seven total points.
"Moved the ball. We couldn't get enough points, and we got into their territory," Belichick said postgame. "We got in there six, seven times, whatever it was, and it was 7 points. So we've got to do a better job of finishing."
For New England, they were most productive on offense during their two scripted drives (their first offensive drive of each half). The Patriots averaged over six yards per play on these two drives, which also resulted in their lone score of the afternoon. They may have troubles finishing drives again this week against a tough Steelers defense, but the early success could help them nab the lead.
The pick: First Scoring Play - Away Field Goal (+370)
Scoring Struggles in the Steel City
As Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said this week, the Steelers and Patriots matchup "will be two trains on the track." Both units feature strong defenses that are continuing to work through changes on the offensive side of the ball. In Week 1, the result was both offenses putting up a combined 23 points.
Little offense could again be a theme in this upcoming matchup. Besides the shaky offensive performances in Week 1, recent history shows Pittsburgh and New England struggling to put up points against each other. The total has gone under in four of the Patriots' last five road games against the Steelers, while the under has also hit in their last three meetings. Points could be at a premium on Sunday.
The pick: Total Under 40.5 (-110)