Two of the AFC’s top teams during the last decade plus will bring winning records and playoff aspirations into their Week 7 clash.
But while the New England Patriots (5-1) received a shot in the arm from the return of their star quarterback, the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) will be without theirs when the perennial powerhouses square off this Sunday.
Tom Brady has picked up where he left off before missing the season’s first four games on suspension, keying the Pats’ aerial attack to the tune of 57 completions on just 75 attempts (76%), six touchdowns, and no interceptions. He has his team humming once again, and New England has beaten both Ohio teams by a combined score of 68-30 in Brady’s stellar two-game stint.
Ben Roethlisberger, on the other hand, was banged up in an especially ugly Steelers loss to the Miami Dolphins (2-4) last Sunday, suffering a torn meniscus which required surgery earlier this week. The surgery to repair Big Ben’s knee was deemed successful, and the Steelers don’t expect him to be out long term, but Roethlisberger won’t be suiting up in front of his home crowd fans at Heinz Field.
As a result, the Bovada sportsbook has decided to wait for official word before releasing its game line, but the consensus among other major sportsbooks has New England as big 7.5-point road favorites.
Bill Belichick’s squad are no strangers to playing in hostile environs as big favorites, and just two weeks ago they covered a 10.5-point spread in Cleveland. All told, the Patriots are 5-1 against the spread (ATS), but the Steelers are no slouches themselves at 4-2 ATS. Throw in an impressive 13-10 overall record since 2004 without Roethlisberger in the lineup, and Pittsburgh may stand a puncher’s chance despite the disastrous turn.
Another hotly anticipated Week 7 contest features a pair of NFC contenders in the Minnesota Vikings (5-0) and the Philadelphia Eagles (3-2). And once again, the road team will be favored, as the Vikings hold a 3-point margin at Bovada.
Both teams started out hot with new quarterbacks, with Eagles retread Sam Bradford enjoying new life up north, and rookie Carson Wentz joining the ranks of fellow first-year passers succeeding right out of the gate this year.
But while the Vikings’ vaunted defense has continued to crush opposing offenses – allowing a league-best 12.6 points per contest – the Eagles’ inability to stop teams from scoring in crunch time has led to disappointing 24-23 and 27-20 defeats the last two weeks.
Two teams with vastly different styles will collide when head coach Andy Reid’s plodding, play it safe Kansas City Chiefs (3-2) battle Sean Payton’s explosive New Orleans Saints (2-3).
The game will be played in Arrowhead Stadium, site of one of the best home field advantages in all of sport, so the Chiefs sitting as 6.5-point favorites at Bovada is no surprise.
And after last week’s clunker in Houston, Sunday Night Football audiences will be treated to a matchup between two truly talented rivals, as the Arizona Cardinals host their NFC West rivals the Seattle Seahawks (4-1). Arizona is installed as consensus 1-point home favorites, signaling that the books don’t really know where to peg this year’s slow-starting Cardinals team.