Written By: Ziv Chen
The Pittsburgh Steelers are travelling to Gillette Stadium this Sunday (Sep. 8th) for the first week of the NFL 2019 Season. Funny how the season starts with one of the biggest games of the league, between two bitter rivals. Both Patriots and Steelers have decades of NFL history and legacy, and a lot of their past has to do with the rivalry between each other. With two of the oldest, wisest and most decorated quarterbacks in NFL history, and both franchises having six Super Bowl rings each, this is going to be a big one. Let’s get ready to rumble!
Expectedly, the ultimate favourite to win this game are defending champions Patriots for many reasons, however things will get very interesting and exciting on Sunday.
Both teams are ranked 1 and 2 in NFL wins over the past ten seasons, but the Patriots are far ahead with 20 wins more than the Steelers (123-103). Until further notice, most are trusting the Belichick-Brady duo to do their magic and keep on top this season also.
For starters, the game is in Foxborough, and it’s never a good idea to bet against Bill Belichick at home. If looking at the stats, Tom Brady’s record against the Steelers at Gillette Stadium is 5-0, with three of these wins by at least one touchdown. Not only that Pittsburgh never won Brady at his home, they never even intercepted him there. Also, the Patriots won twelve of their last thirteen home games in the regular season by at least seven points. And the Steelers? Only won four away games in 2018.
Still, last year the Patriots lost two of their first three season games. In 2017, they lost their season opener to the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s known that the real season, and even sometimes the real game starts later for New England, with Brady being named “the comeback boy” for quite a few times in his history.
So we looked around at some predictions from people that know a thing or three about the NFL:
Greg Cote, Miami Harold: Patriots 34, Steelers 27, saying that the “Steelers rush may really bother Brady”, but also added that “There’s a Brady magic at Foxborough”, mentioning that New England won nine out of the past ten home openers.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 31, Steelers 23. Prisco said that “New England has owned the Steelers and Tom Brady has been sensational against them”.
Todd Haislop, Sporting News: Patriots 28, Steelers 20. According to Haislop, both teams are similar in the sense they are “tasked with replacing star power and production this season”, and should “rely on their running games and less on their aging quarterbacks”.
Greg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Patriots 19, Steelers 17. Rosenthal thinks things will be tighter, and says that the Steelers are “flying high after a productive camp where rookie Devin Bush emerged”, yet he stays on the majority side saying also that although the Steelers are dangerous, “picking against Brady in Foxborough remains a fool’s errand”.
In terms of the spread, again New England are the favourites, almost across the board:
Benjamin Hoffman, New York Times: Patriots (-5.5), saying the Steelers are good enough to be insulted by the spread, but he’d still bet on Brady.
Michael Hurley, CBS Boston: Patriots (-5.5), thinks that although the Steelers beat New England last December, playing “in Foxborough against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick? It’s…a bloodbath”.
USA Today’s staff survey: over 85% picked Patriots (-5.5).
Still, although being obvious underdogs, there are some that believe that things can go Pittsburgh’s way on Sunday night.
Last year, Ben Roethlisberger led the NFL with 5,129 passing yards, and he doesn’t have to worry about the background noise from Antonio Bell or Le’Veon Brown anymore, which for Ben and the dressing room may be a good thing.
Patriot’s tight end Rob Gronkowski who did a lot of damage to the Steeler’s defense is out.
Rediculous catch by Rob Gronkowski pic.twitter.com/IMgDzFk0ug
— Henry McKenna (@McKennAnalysis) December 17, 2017
And speaking of Pittsburgh’s defense, they upgraded their line in many positions, making a defensive line that is much faster and more athletic. Rookie Devin Bush for example has the skills and is expected to neutralize New England’s running back Sony Michel. Also, this preseason has been great for Pitt’s kicker Chris Boswell, and they Steelers are banking on him as one of their weapons for winning field goal kicks.
Devin Bush talks about learning the defense and how it feels to be in Pittsburgh following his first practice of rookie minicamp. pic.twitter.com/kF6OJgfeUk
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 10, 2019
So there are very few and far between, but we did find some optimists for Pittsburgh Steelers.
Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Steelers 27 Patriots 23. Dulac is optimistic (OK, given he’s from the Burgh…). He mentions that the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Patriots at home in the season opener after their Super Bowl LI win (their fifth), so thinks it can be done again.
Joe Giglio, NJ.com: Steelers (+6) would back the Steelers although still as the clear underdog. Giglio says that “this line feels big for the Pats without Rob Gronkowski”.
So to sum up, what’s our take on this first clash of the two top NFL franchises? Anything can happen on the night, and both teams have aging quarterbacks and different line ups that need to be worked on until they jell together into the powerhouses we will see later in the season. Although Pittsburgh has a chance, we will go with the flow and predict: Patriots (-5.5).
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