Steelers fans, the time we've all been waiting for is finally here! Our Pittsburgh Steelers kick off their regular season and quest for their seventh Super Bowl on Sunday night.
This week, we are in for a good one as the Steelers travel to Foxborough for a Sunday Night Football match up with the defending Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots.
As always, this is a game that I guarantee you both of these teams have had circled on their schedule for a long time. With that being said, let's take a look at this week's opponent, the New England Patriots.
With this only being week one, there aren't many major injuries to report for the Patriots. The only players that still have situations to monitor are defensive back Obi Melifonwu (Ankle), tight end Matt (Ankle), and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (Hamstring). They are all listed as questionable.
The biggest loss for the Patriots in this game and throughout the rest of the season will be center David Andrews, who was ruled out for the season with a blood clot in his lung. The Patriots will also be playing without rookie wide receiver N'Keal Harry (Ankle) and defensive end Derek Rivers (Undisclosed), who were both placed on the IR.
Brady looks to lead Patriots to another Super Bowl
As much as I hate to say it, as long as Tom Brady is around, the Patriots will be contenders. Brady comes into this season after leading New England to their sixth Super Bowl victory. Unfortunately, he comes into this season without arguably his biggest weapon after tight end Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement.
However, he still does have some very good pieces around him.
Julian Edelman is back and will likely be Brady's go-to receiver this year. He will be joined by recently reinstated Josh Gordon, who will serve as a very dangerous deep threat. Phillip Dorsett and rookie Jakobi Meyers are also in the mix. With the injury to Matt LaCosse and Ben Watson serving a suspension, Ryan Izzo will likely be the starter at tight end.
The Patriots have a crowded backfield once again this season. James White and second year running back Sony Michel will likely get the bulk of the carries. Rookie Damien Harris could see a few carries as well.
Patriots defense looks to improve from 2018
While the Patriots didn't have the worst defense in the league last season, they still have room for improvement. They finished 21st in the league in total defense last season, allowing 359.1 yards and 20.3 points per game. Against the run, New England finished 11th in the league, giving up 112.7 yards per game.
Their front seven is led by linebacker Dont'a Hightower. He is joined in the linebacker core by Kyle Van Noy, who led the team with 92 tackles last season, and Elandon Roberts. Jamie Collins will also see some playing time. The defensive line will consist of Lawrence Guy and Danny Shelton at defensive tackle, along with Deatrich Wise Jr. and Michael Bennett at the defensive ends. I also look for rookie Chase Winovich to see significant playing time at defensive end.
New England struggled against the pass last season, finishing 22nd in the league. They allowed 246.4 yards per game through the air last season. Stephon Gilmore returns and is still arguably one of the best corners in the league. He will be joined at corner by Jason McCourty. J.C. Jackson and Jonathan Jones will likely rotate in.
At safety, Patrick Chung is currently listed as a starter with an investigation into his cocaine possession charge investigation pending. He will be joined by Devin McCourty. Duron Harmon will also rotate in as he led the Patriots with four interceptions last season.
As always, this should be a very close game between two talent-rich football teams. This game should be back and forth and I see it being a classic quarterback dual between Ben Roethlisberger and Brady.
I see Roethlisberger having a huge game against this Patriots secondary: my prediction is that he throws for over 300 yards and three touchdowns.
It will come down to the final couple minutes of the game and Ben will lead this offense down the field to win the game by a score.