After waiting patiently for seven months, football fans can finally add some more meaning to their Sundays. The 2015 NFL season kicks off on Thursday night with the Pittsburgh Steelers traveling to Foxsborough to take on the New England Patriots.
Tom Brady will suit up for the Patriots just one week after Judge Berman overturned Roger Goodell’s Deflategate decision. Now that the drama over deflated footballs in done with, Tom Brady is surely going to be ready to lay waste to the league after having his reputation called into question.
Bill Belicheck and the Patriots have made a living out of doing more with less. Other than the Tom-Brady-to-Rob-Gronkowski connection, this is a team that continues to lack outstanding offensive weapons. Their two best recievers are still Julian Edleman and Brandon Lafell who is going to be out till at least week 8 with a foot injury.
The Pats will be without running back LeGarrette Blount for this first game due to suspension and his likely replacement is Brandon Bolden. The point is that it really doesn’t matter who the Patriots put out on the offensive side of the ball. Tom Brady is going to make them all better and Brady to Gronkowski is one of the deadliest combos in the league.
The Patriots defense is going to be even more improved from last season. It’ll be interesting to see if the hero from last year’s Super Bowl, Malcolm Butler does with some of the spotlight. Other than Devin McCourty, there are some holes in the secondary but the Patriots have put together a solid front seven through the draft.
The likes of Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovic and Dont’a Hightower should take full advantage of the fact that the Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey is out with a broken leg.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have issues on both sides of the ball to start the season. It almost seems wrong to say that the Steelers offense is going to be better than the Steelers defense but it’s a new era in Pittsburgh. Todd Haley proved how good of an offensive coordinator he can be when he has a top 5 running back and a Super Bowl winning quarterback. The only issue is that their star running back Le’Veon Bell is suspended for the first two games and their number two wide receiver Martavis Bryant is suspended for four games.
Big Ben Roethlisberger is going to have a big year throwing passes to arguably the best wide out in the game, Antonio Brown. The Pats won’t have much else to fear other than stopping that tandem in this game. Former Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams is Bell’s replacement and while he can be effective running the ball, he can’t block or catch passes like Bell can.
The Steelers defense is a shell of itself from a couple of years ago and they will be without one of the best defensive coordinators ever in Dick LeBeau. They drafted Bud Dupree out of Kentucky in the first round but he definitely needs some work after underwhelming in the preseason. The Steelers secondary has some veterans but trying to stop Tom Brady who has been set free will be a tough task.
The Steelers have historically failed at defending the tight end position and with Rob Gronkowski and Scott Chandler coming to town, the Steelers could be in for a long night. Yet Steelers safety Mike Mitchell stirred things up a couple of days ago when they said they were going to get physical with Gronk. As if that’s really going to do anything? You can’t stop Gronk, you can only hope to contain him.
Steelers vs. Patriots has always been a fun matchup to watch regardless of the gap in quality between the two teams. Big Ben and Antonio Brown will make some plays and this game will still be closer than people think. However, Tom Brady is going to pick apart this defense without Dick LeBeau at the helm, on top of that the game is in Foxsborough. It’s tough to pick against the Patriots. Patriots 31 Steelers 21.