SteelerNation.com

Week 1, What to Watch for Against the New England Patriots

By Matt Papiernik, @Matt_Papiernik on Twitter
SteelerNation.com

 

As the Pittsburgh Steelers head out into their opening game of the regular season, there are several things to keep an eye on. There is a lot of optimism surrounding the Steelers improved defense this year, and they will get an immediate test going against the defending Super Bowl champions.

 

The Battle of Brady vs. the Linebackers

Every year, it seems as though Tom Brady has been a thorn in the Steelers side, as he has been able to dissect them over the middle of the field and take advantage of mismatches. The last two seasons however, the Steelers have been able to figure them out for the most part, as they put constant pressure on Brady and made him make some ill advised decisions. The Steelers have a revamped linebacking core this season, and the three headed monster of Vince Williams, Mark Barron, and Devin Bush¬†will definitely be one to keep an eye on vs. Brady. Barron and Bush both add an element the Steelers lacked last year, as they have the talent to run with running backs and tight ends over the middle and in the flat. As long as Brady isn’t able to manipulate them with motions, play fakes, and unique personnel, I think the Steelers linebackers can get the best of Brady in week one.

 

Second and Third Options in the Passing Game

Bill Belichick is one of the best in the business at taking away a team’s top offensive weapon any given week. This is the first season with Juju Smith-Schuster as the number one wide receiver, and it will definitely be a big test to see who will step up behind him to take advantage of single coverage. Both Donte Moncrief and James Washington figure to get a lot of opportunity in this game to show off their skills, as they will likely be receiving single coverage throughout the game. If Washington can get behind the Patriots secondary once or twice early, it’ll force the Patriots to soften up their attention being given to Juju and really let the Steelers offense open up.

 

Special Focus on Special Teams

One area of the field the Patriots always seem to have the upper hand is special teams. However, this may be the year the Steelers swing that in their favor as Danny Smith appears to have the Steelers special teams units headed in the right direction. Both of these teams are expected to be near the top of the AFC this season, so the little details such as the field position battle might just be the difference.

 

Avoiding The Distractions

The Steelers spent the off-season relatively distraction free, as there was a large focus on minimizing any drama and pulling the team together. However, the Patriots just signed the Steelers former wide receiver Antonio Brown. Brown won’t get to play against the Steelers, and likely won’t be able to be on the sideline, but there is no doubt he stole the headlines during the day Saturday. With how the Steelers approached this season I don’t see there being many players being distracted with this news, or anything else that may happen leading up to kickoff, but against top teams you have to be 100% focused.

 

Comment below and let me know what you will be looking for as the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the New England Patriots!

#SteelerNation

Follow me on Twitter! @Matt_Papiernik

Shop the newest Pittsburgh Steelers fan gear at Fanatics!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *