The term “can’t miss” is thrown around too much in sport these days. It’s a term that, through repetition, has become the status quo for lazy promoters to push to the masses and more often than not, fails to deliver on action or is more lacklustre than anything.
But every now and then, a game lives up to the hype, a game full of passion and pride that drives every fan in the arena and watching at home to their feet. A game truly worthy of bearing the term “can’t miss.”
The first game of the 2015 NFL season between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the defending Super Bowl champs, the New England Patriots, will be one of those games.
Here we will be looking into the pros and cons for each team going into this heavyweight matchup, a game that will huge implications for both teams.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
It’s going to be an interesting first hit out for the defending champs. With the return of Tom Brady, no doubt the Boys from Boston will be hoping to make a big statement.
Home Game Eases the Pain.
The Patriots will be at their home base, Gillette Stadium, which has got to be a great shot in the arm for the boys. As soon as “Crazy Train” hits, the adrenaline will too. That, mixed with knowledge that the last time the Steelers walked into Gillette, they walked out with a 55-31 loss, will give the Pats a big mental edge.
Gostkowski’s Golden Boot.
Gostkowski is finding some form in the preseason that should hopefully translate over to the big games. He’s nailed 2 shots in the preseason from over 50 yards and will be pivotal if the Pats want a successful start to the season.
Brady’s Back-Tell Your Friends.
Tom Brady makes his return from taking on the NFL and he is going to be ready to put all the doubters to bed. He will be amped up, pissed off and focused which will no doubt rub off on the rest of the team. This may possibly end up being Brady’s biggest season to date so watch this space.
Running back LeGarette Blount has been confirmed to miss Week 1 for the Pats and now wide receiver Julian Edelman also remains in doubt after suffering a leg injury during training camp. The Patriots potentially find themselves short of wide receivers with Brandon LaFell also possibly out with a foot injury.
Brandon Bolden and Jonas Gray both struggled for any decent footing at running back during the preseason. Combined, they had a total of 23 yards for 10 carries in their last preseason match against the Panthers. It will be interesting to see what Belichick does to inject something into his RBs.
Now that Tom Brady has made his return to the team, there will be a massive wave of pressure on the Patriots. They will be expected to win and with a team consisting of many youthful players, a packed out Gillette Stadium can either be their greatest ally or worst enemy. Will the return of the number 12 jersey do more harm than good?
Mike Tomlins boys couldn’t of had a tougher start to the season than this; the defending champions away from home. There are some promising signs for the Steelers though which may include a mental edge over New England.
The Steelers are tied with the Patriots when it comes to games won in Boston with a 4-4 record. However, they are 1-2 when it comes to games at Gillette Stadium and last time it was a 55-31 loss. The Steelers will be looking to play off the drama happening in the Pats camp and use it to their advantage.
Dri Archer – Steelers Hidden Gem.
Dri Archer is coming into his own and is looking more and more comfortable with each game he plays. During the preseason he played a mix of receiver, returner and as a runner. His natural athletic ability is starting to show and by seasons end he could add some real speed into the Steelers offence along with the experience of Michael Vick.
As they say; defense wins games. Pittsburgh have shown flashes of brilliance in the preseason of what they can do. If they can string it all together, they’ll be looking like quite the threat. Ryan Shazier in particular looked formidable in the preseason.
No Depth With the Boot.
What was initially thought of as a moderate thigh injury for Shaun Suisham has blown up into a season-ending torn ACL which will most likely send the Steelers to drudge through the remains of the free agents. At the time of this writing, their best option for an effective starter would be 39-year old Jay Feely who is still a free agent. Good luck with that.
Morale in the Pittsburgh camp reported to be reasonably low and its understandable. 1-3 in the preseason. Mixed with the fact that this week, they’ve had Maurkice Pouncey break his fibula and now wide receiver, Martavis Bryant, has been banned for the next 4 weeks for violating the NFL substance abuse policy. (Appeal information coming).
Welcome to the Dog Pit.
I was flip flopping about if I was going to put this in this Pros or Cons. After much deliberation, consider this less of a Con and we’ll put it into its own “neutral” category. Vick brings some much needed experience into the Steelers game plan. He also brings a lot of luggage. A vocal part of the Pittsburgh fans have been very open and against his signing. Thankfully he has a chance to silence some of the critics with a performance away from from Heinz Field before heading there next week to face San Francisco.
I originally had the Patriots to win a tight game by 24-21. However, with the addition of Tom Brady, I believe that the Patriots will win be a slightly larger margin. Overall, the coaching prowess of Belichick and home advantage will prove too much for the Steelers as the defending champs seek to make a statement in the season opener.
Who To Watch:
Keep an eye on Archer for the Steelers while the Patriots new TE, Scott Chandler, could surprise some people if he’s given any game time.