Are you ready for some Steelers vs Patriots football?
The NFL kicks off Thursday night with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the New England Patriots. There could be lightning in the sky besides Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger bombs. The weather report is for thunderstorms in the vicinity of Foxborough and Gillette Stadium. Here is the straight skinny for the game.
Rumor has it that one former Victoria’s Secret model is rooting for Big Ben. Giselle is still miffed because her husband complained that her “girls” were sagging, which prompted her to take a well-publicized trip to the plastic surgeon.
I can’t think of anything I like about Bill Belichick. Among other things besides Spygate, Belichick says he is not on Instant Face. The only thing I like about Tom Brady is his wife, for an obvious reason (she is rooting for the Steelers).
The pregame ceremony will feature the Patriots unveiling the Super Bowl banner and such festivities. I’ll be sure to miss that part or I might throw up in my mouth.
Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth call the game, televised on NBC. The battle should begin shortly after 8:30 pm. I like those guys. The best on covering the NFL next to Erin Andrews.
Who won’t be there
Roger Goodell won’t be at the game tonight. I suspect he is fearful his life might be in danger if he attends, due to Deflategate. Although I might point out that Tom Brady was not exonerated regarding the cheating. The NFL’s pathetic disciplinary procedures were what nullified Brady’s suspension, according to “Here Comes Da Judge” Richard Berman.
On offense, the Steelers will be minus some significant talent like Le’Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant, and Maurkice Pouncey. Bell and Bryant are suspended and really need to lay off the weed. Pouncey is injured but hopefully will return late in the season. LeGarrette Bount is suspended for the Patriots, for the same incident that got Bell in trouble when the two were teammates with the Steelers last season. Wide receiver Brandon LaFell is out for the Patriots.
On defense, both teams lost some players who forged their team’s identity. For the Steelers, Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor retired. It will be strange not seeing those two in the secondary after so many years. Likewise for Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau on the sidelines. The giant in the middle for the Patriots, Vince Wilfork, has moved on to Houston. Cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner have deserted what hopefully is a sinking ship for other teams.
The defense rests, but not tonight.
The big question is which team’s defense is for better or worse after making substantial changes. Tommy Boy and Big Ben will likely light it up with whatever weapons are at their disposal.
Keith Butler replaced Dick LeBeau as defensive coordinator for the Steelers. His primary focus is said to be improving the pass rush. Essential in determining whether that happens is the play of Jarvis Jones and first-round draft pick Bud Dupree and what James Harrison aka Deebo aka Silverback has left in the tank.
The Patriots defense looks pretty solid to me except for the secondary. Losing Revis Island is huge.
Players to watch other than the quarterbacks
DeAngelo Williams will fill in for Le’Veon Bell. He is the career leader in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns for the Carolina Panthers. But he is 32 years old and injury prone. Maybe he can get it up for two games until Le’Veon Bell returns. Maybe not.
Jonas Gray looked to be the number one running back for the Patriots in the absence of LeGarrette Blount for this game. Gray rushed for 201 yards and four touchdowns against Indianapolis last season. But he got himself in Belichick’s doghouse and has been surprisingly released. Branden Bolden appears to be the man, but he only gained 89 yards last season. So who knows who will pound the rock, but the Pats always seem to come up with somebody to get the job done.
Antonio Brown is the most dynamic wide receiver in the game. Without Revis, the Patriots will likely double him much of the time. Markus Wheaton has to step up for the Steelers.
And then you have the tight ends. Heath Miller is old reliable. Rob Gronkowski is incredible when healthy. The Steelers must contain him.
Mike Greenberg on “Mike & Mike” picked the Steelers to win the AFC and lose to the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. Greenie picked the Patriots to win the game tonight over the Steelers 31-27.
That seems to be a reasonable prediction to me, although I’m hoping the bad guys (Patriots) lose. The Steelers are God’s team. Bill Belichick is the Antichrist and Tom Brady is the False Prophet.
One thing is as certain as death and taxes. After this season, New England will still not have more Lombardi Trophies than Pittsburgh, no matter how much they cheat.
The Patriots are a 7-point favorite, playing at home, and have Brady when it appeared for so long he would be suspended and miss this one. The Steelers need a secret weapon. I hope they find one before the coin toss.
Mean Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, and Mel Blount, where are you?
I never root for anyone to get injured, but it would be somewhat interesting if the backup quarterbacks play a role in the outcome of this game. Jimmy Garoppolo was slated to get the start for the Patriots until Judge Berman gave O.J. Brady a free pass. Hey, Michael Vick, the backup for the Steelers paid his debt to society. Woof, woof.
The Steelers have the toughest schedule in the NFL this season. I’m apprehensive about what kind of showing they are going to put up in this game, but I do think they will prove to be an offensive juggernaut by the latter part of the season. That of course, is barring more injuries or other issues with respect to the big guns. So lay off the dope, dopes.
Many of the usual suspect talking heads on the boob tube are predicting more competition in the AFC East than usual. I hope so. Go Bills, Dolphins, and Jets! But I doubt it. The hood in the hoody will likely find a new way to cheat.
And then you have fantasy football. I don’t know about you, but my fantasy teams are loaded with Steelers. Surprise, surprise. The last thing I would have is a Patriot on one of my teams. I even have a Steelers kicker, although I’m not sure who that is. They already lost two kickers for the season. No, I don’t have the Steelers defense. I have the Seahawks defense on all of my teams. But I’m hoping that by the end of the season I wish I would have had the Steelers defense. Stranger things have happened. Eli Manning did make Tom Brady cry in two Super Bowls.
Here we go, Steelers, here we go!
(My prediction is the Patriots will find a new way to cheat.)
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