Finally, we are onto football and not the air pressure of footballs. Not only are we onto football, but the Super Bowl MVP will be on the field for opening day. I don’t know about you guys, but this season could not have come any faster after having to listen to Deflategate nonsense for the last eight months. What should we expect in week one of the NFL season?
Well, as previously mentioned, Tom Brady will be under center (or most likely in shotgun) to start the season. That means we will get to see two of the best quarterbacks in football airing it out this Thursday night. And if you’re not sure if they will be airing it out, just remember how Brady and the Patriots responded to the last time they were accused of cheating. They lost one game all season. Brady set a record for most touchdowns in a season. This time they attacked not only the team, but they singled out Brady. Nobody plays better with a chip on his shoulder than Brady so watch out, NFL, you have no idea what Roger Goodell just brought upon the rest of the league.
The Patriots are thrilled to have Brady on the field for week one, but they also caught a break having Le’Veon Bell out for this game as he serves his two game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. That being said, the Steelers still probably have the advantage at running back this week, as they have former Carolina Panther Deangelo Williams serving as Bell’s backup.
I could go on and on about the offenses but let’s just stop at this...it does not matter that Bell is suspended. It does not matter that LeGarrette Blount is suspended. It does not matter that Brandon LaFell is starting the season on the physically unable to perform list. This will be an offensive game. That is not even because the defenses are terrible. (Well, in the case of the Steelers, it may be terrible.) It is just because these are two offensive teams. Ben Roethlisberger is one of the best in the biz and Brady is the best in the biz and will be doing everything he can to stick it to the rest of the league.
Time to take a look at the defenses. The Patriots’ defense sure looks different from last season. Darrelle Revis is in New York. Brandon Browner is in New Orleans. Kyle Arrington is in Baltimore. Malcolm Butler is now the starting left cornerback and looks to be more than just a one hit wonder. That being said, Butler will have one of the most difficult matchups there is in football week one as he will shadow Antonio Brown. Brown may not be the physical nightmare that Calvin Johnson or Mike Evans is, but he is a fantastic route runner with great speed. The secondary of the Steelers...well let’s just say that even with LaFell out and the possibility that Julian Edelman does not suit up, Brady will shred them. They have no secondary. They cannot stop the pass.
While the Patriots did lose many key members of the secondary, they bulked up on the defensive line. Their front seven could be one of the best in football. Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Alan Branch, and Sealver Siliga all return. Dominique Easley is of course back and looks healthy and ready to wreak havoc in the trenches. He will be positioned next to rookie Malcom Brown, who has also looked good in preseason. They also bring in rookies Geneo Grissom and Trey Flowers. While Grissom has not shown much. Flowers has looked exceptional in preseason. They also bring back one of the best linebacking corps in football with Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, and a heathy Jerod Mayo. They also added Jabaal Sheard, who also has looked very good so far as a Patriots.
The most important part of Thursday, however, is that we will see a fourth banner raised at Gillette Stadium. And right after that goes up, the quest for five begins.
Get yourself ready for the game with the Patriots Beat Podcast.