The New England Patriots will begin their Super Bowl defense against a bitter AFC rival. But how bitter will that rivalry actually be this season?
The NFL confirmed Wednesday night the Pittsburgh Steelers will visit the Patriots in Week 1. It's a tough opening draw for the Steelers, who haven't won at Gillette Stadium since 2008 and lost superstars Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell amid a tumultuous offseason.
Those developments were reflected in the opening point spreads for Week 1 games, which came out Thursday and had the Patriots as 6.5-point favorites over Pittsburgh.
It's obviously tricky to predict Week 1 games when all 32 teams enter with a clean slate, and there is some hope for the Steelers: The Patriots actually lost their last season opener following a Super Bowl victory, falling to the Kansas City Chiefs 42-27 at home in 2017. But the expectation is Tom Brady and Co. will take care of business on NBC's "Sunday Night Football."
As for the entire season, The Action Network released updated win totals for all NFL teams Thursday after the league's schedule release and pegged New England at 10.4 wins. That's actually a slight dip from the team's previous 11-win projection and a bit eye-opening considering the Patriots' strength of schedule, or lack thereof.
But while the Patriots will have to adapt to life without Rob Gronkowski, oddsmakers still like their chances relative to the rest of the league. Case in point: They have the best odds to remain undefeated the longest in 2019, per DraftKings Sportsbook.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) April 18, 2019
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.