The NFL kicks of the 2015 season this evening when the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots. The Patriots will of course hope to pick up where they left off last season after winning their 4th Super Bowl in January. They will also be looking to shake off the stigma of yet another cheating scandal with what became known as "Deflategate". Patriots quarterback Tom Brady who was originally suspended for the first four games of the season over "Deflategate" instead won his court case against the NFL and will be under center this evening. The Patriots will also use the showcase game this evening to raise their Super Bowl banner from last season.
Brady will start the year with a couple of completely healthy targets in tight end Rob Gronkowski, widely considered the best in the game. and Julian Edelman who combined for over 2,000 yards reviving last season to go along with their combined 16 touchdowns. On the other hand Brady will also be missing one of his weapons in Brandon LaFell for half a season. LaFell accounted for nearly a 1,000 yards receiving and 7 touchdowns in 2014. Also missing for the Pat's this season are both of their starting corner backs from 2014 with Darrelle Revis returning to the Jets and Brandon Browner signing a free agent deal with the Saints. Also now missing from the Pats defense is long time defensive tackle Vince Wilfork who now plays for the Texans.
For most teams so much turnover would seem crippling but turnover is something that has never seemed to phase the Patriots or their head coach Bill Belichick. Other changes the Pats face is within their backfield. Stevan Ridly and Shane Vereen were lost via free agency and Jonas Gray was cut at the end of camp and is now a practice squad member of the Dolphins. Additionally, LeGarrette Blount will miss week one of the season due to his substance-abuse suspension. Brandon Bolden should handle the lions share of the rushing duties for the Pats this evening.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger enters the 2015 season coming off his best season, statistically, of his career. Big Ben also just signed a new deal with the Steelers for 5 years and 99 million dollars, ensuring that he is a Steeler through 2019. Roethlisberger will again be throwing to the Steelers star receiver Antonio Brown. Brown let the league in 2014 with 1,698 yards and 13 touchdowns. Bolstered by the play of Roethlisberger and Brown the Steelers were second in the NFL, only a third of a yard behind the Saints, with 411.1 yards of offense per game.
Like the Patriots, the Steelers are facing some losses in their first game of the season. Le'Veon Bell who rushed for 1,300 yards and also had 854 yards reviving in 2014 will miss two games having been suspended by the NFL for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. Joining Bell with a substance-abuse suspension is wide-out Martavis Bryant who will have to sit for four games to begin the season. Also out for at least the first couple of months of the season is the Steelers star center Maurkice Pouncey who suffered an ankle injury.
Another hurdle for Pittsburgh this evening is the fact that they have never beaten a Patriots team at home while Tom Brady is at the helm. Their most recent game in Foxborough saw the Steelers get blown out by the score of 55 to 31. If the Steelers hope to change their luck in Gillette Stadium then their defense had better be much improved over last season, a year that saw the Steelers give up 353.4 yards per game.
- Date: Thursday, September 10th, 2015
Time: 8:30 p.m. EST
Line: Patriots by 6.5/ Over Under 51
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
Please use this thread to discuss this game or the upcoming Miami Dolphins @ Washington Redskins game this weekend. As always providing or requesting of links to illegal game streams is strictly prohibited on the Phinsider and any other SBNation site.