You couldn’t match up two National Football League teams that have won more Super Bowls than tonight’s Sunday night opener between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots. Combined, they have won twelve of the first 53 Super Bowls, six each.
The game also features a pair of quarterbacks destined for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after they complete their playing days, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger.
Now, with that said, why are these two teams playing tonight? Since 2004, the Thursday night home opener has been reserved for the defending Super Bowl Champion. The only break in that streak was 2013, when the Baltimore Ravens had to play away from their stadium because their parking lot was being used by the Baltimore Orioles for a home baseball game.
The reason the NFL has abandoned their long tradition tonight is because they wanted to kick off their 100th season with a matchup between two of the oldest rivals in the league, the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. So, relegate the defending champion Patriots to the Sunday night prime time telecast, and serve up a formidable foe with the Steelers.
What can we expect?
No matter how much you may like the Steelers in this game know a couple things are working against them. The defending Super Bowl Champion in primetime has only lost twice on their home field since 2004. Those two games were the New York Giants being downed by the Dallas Cowboys to open the 2012 season and the Patriots being upset by the Kansas City Chiefs three years ago.
Only one other game had the point spread come into play to down the defending champions, that was the Tennessee Titans over the Pittsburgh Steelers when as a 6½ point underdog they lost 13-10 to open the 2009 season. The Ravens did lose their opener after winning the Super Bowl to complete the 2012 season, but they were up against the team they upset in the playoffs the January before, the Denver Broncos, at Mile High Stadium.
So, history favors the defending champion in these openers … but does the match up tonight support a wager on this game?
It is kind of a shame that Antonio Brown, who signed yesterday with the Patriots, isn’t available tonight because he is not yet eligible. He will be next week. But, don’t you know the NFL would have loved to have added that element to their Sunday Night Football opener?
That may have been overkill for this primetime contest between two of the NFL legendary franchises.
Yet, even with Brown yet flashing his talents for the Patriots against his former team, we get a truly great contest that promises to conclude the NFL’s opening Sunday in fine fashion.
They can have it, with all the work I’ve done, I can’t find an edge in this game for a reliable wager … so, sit back, have a beer, and watch football without the adrenalin of a bet on the game.