As the New England Patriots take the field to host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night, you absolutely now that the focus of a lot of attention will be the series of events that came to their culmination on Saturday as Antonio Brown was released by the Oakland Raiders and picked up by the Patriots.
The Steelers were not unfamiliar with the kind of antics that the public now seems enthralled by. And while they may have been laughing a little, when he was Oakland’s problem, his presence with the Pats may become THEIR problem if these teams eventually have to meet in the playoffs.
As they meet on Sunday, Brown will not be available to the Patriots, because they did not meet the deadline to add him to the roster.
At BetAnySports, you’ll be able to place wagers before the game starts with Live Betting Ultra. Here are the numbers for Sunday night’s NBC game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, infused with reduced juice for better odds:
New England Patriots -5.5 (-105)
Pittsburgh Steelers +5.5 (-105)
Over 49 points (-105)
Under 49 points (-105)
When a team like the Steelers, who are known for continuity, are willing to take a third and fifth-round draft pick in exchange for an offensive whirlwind and four-time All-Pro who has caught more passes than anyone over the last six years, you have to get the sense that they know something their trade partner doesn’t. In this case, there were many incidents, including a tantrum early in his career when he demanded that nobody touch him in practice. And there was another time when Troy Polamalu wanted to take his head off after he cursed out highly-respected defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.
Ultimately it wasn’t too painful for the Steelers to let him go, and Oakland, of course, had its own share of problems, with the fines accumulating to the point where they informed Brown that he had forfeited the $29 million he was guaranteed. We don’t have to go into the whole story, but the bottom line is that “A.B,” who posted an audio of a private phone conversation between him and Jon Gruden on YouTube, is heading to perhaps the only team that can deal with him. Bill Belichick isn’t going to stand for any nonsense, and players know that. So maybe he can make Brown a reclamation project along the same lines as Randy Moss.
Meanwhile, the plan for the Steelers (+1650 to win the Super Bowl at BetAnySports) was to use Donte Moncrief as the #2 man behind Juju Smith-Schuster, who had 1426 yards in receptions last year. But what’s critical is that somebody like James Washington step up. Last season was a disappointment from him, but during the pre-season he had some explosive moments. And if he doesn’t produce drama, that’s a bonus, we guess.
The Steelers would like to think they have the whole Le’Veon Bell thing behind them, as James Conner gained 1470 yards from scrimmage last year. Some people think that the Patriots might struggle through the air – or at least that’s the way they may have thought before the deal with Brown. You are probably aware that they activated Josh Gordon, who has gone through several suspensions for substance violations with the league. He did average 18 yards a catch, but his status could be tenuous. And Rob Gronkowski has, of course, retired (will he reconsider?).
Our feeling is that the Pats will be sufficiently covered here. Tom Brady can often turn water into wine. They have Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman. Phillip Dorsett is also on hand. Demariyus Thomas was cut, then re-signed. Jakobi Meyers, like Edelman, was a quarterback in college before switching to receiver, and he could wind up a keeper. And they have James White to catch passes out of the backfield.
Let’s not cast any doubt as to what these guys can do on defense either; not after that Super Bowl performance, where a lot of folks thought maybe Kyle Van Noy deserved the MVP award. AND they signed Michael Bennett? At 13-3 against the spread over their last 16 home games, we don’t want to bet against them.
If only somebody could PLEASE find Brown a helmet for next week.
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