The Steelers and the Patriots are set to renew their rivalry Sunday at 4:24 p.m. in Foxborough.
The injury plague Patriots will be without runner stuffer Tommy Kelly but may get Talib back for the game.
They will also have Gronk back in his 3rd straight game and we should begin to see the Gronk of old settling back in the game.
Both offenses are struggling and this is likely to be a defensive battle as both defenses are having a stellar year. The only difference between the two teams is the Steelers are 2 – 5, and New England is 6 – 2.
New England keeps finding ways to win, especially at home.
Both of the Patriots losses have been heartbreakers on the road, and they are undefeated at home and to stay that way they will need 3 key players to step up.
1. DT Isaac Sopoaga
– The Patriots traded their 2014 5th round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for veteran defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga before the trade deadline earlier in the week.
The Patriots were in need of a veteran run stuffer as the defense had been giving up rush yards right up the middle of the defense.
Sopoaga practiced all 3 days with the team and coach Bill Belichick says he will play on Sunday.
Sopoaga first test will be against the rookie running back Le’veon Bell who has had a stellar season so far. Bell could take advantage of the injuries to New England on defense but with Sopoaga there, New England is hoping the defensive holes won’t be so big.
Sopoaga will be a key in this game and he is worth watching in his first game with his new team.
2. WR Aaron Dobson
– Aaron Dobson has had a rough season as a rookie. He has had more than his fair share of drops, wrong routes run, and no trust with Tom Brady. Not the way you want to start your career in the NFL.
Dobson looked like a guy running the right routes Sunday against the Dolphins, and finally saw those good hands everyone had heard about in college. Can he keep it up though? Can he be consistent?
This is the last time I will have hope in Dobson Sunday if he doesn’t produce again. If he struggles to get open, runs bad or wrong routes, or drops passes then I’m officially signing off the Dobson wagon.
I sincerely hope he gets better every game, but he needs to not only improve but be consistent.
Brady has been getting hit a lot because of shaky o-line play at times and because his receivers are not getting open and this week will be a tough task for the Pats offense.
The Steelers defense is ranked number 2 against the pass and they are a pretty good secondary with names across the board.
Dobson will have to get open for Brady to prevent sacks or hits to his QB and to help score some points.
3. OL Marcus Cannon
– Marcus Cannon will be replacing Sebastian Vollmer, and those are some big shoes to fill, literally and figuratively.
The offensive line hasn’t performed up to the levels of years past but Vollmer and Solder have been excellent all season.
Now down Vollmer there is real concern the Pats O-Line may get worse before better.
It is up to Cannon to calm those fears Sunday when Lamarr Woodley comes to town looking for a QB to hit and beat up.
Not only Cannon, but the entire line needs to protect Brady if they want Brady to be “Brady of the old.”