The NFL regular season is only one day away!
The Patriots will host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football to kick off the 2015 season.
The Pats will be unveiling their 2014 Super Bowl Banner, a special moment for the Boston based team and fans.
The Patriots began the season 0-1 last year, opening up with a loss to the Miami Dolphins, will it be any different this year when they face Big Ben and the Steelers? Well, here are the 3 matchups that could determine that.
1. WR Antonio Brown Vs CB Malcolm Butler.
This is the biggest matchup for both teams. The Steelers number one WR and one of the best in the NFL will go against the Patriots number one corner and who wins will likely determine the outcome of this game. On paper, it’s a perfect matchup height, weight, and speed wise. Butler plays his best with a chip on his shoulder, which he will have going into this game, so hopefully that chip will help him stop one of the most unstoppable players in the game.
2. Steelers DL Vs Patriots OL.
Big matchup here, especially with the possibility that two rookies could be playing at each guard spot and Bryan Stork might not be under center. Vollmer and Solder will hold things down at left and right tackle, but who will be clogging up the middle is really an unknown at this point. Shaq Mason Vs Cameron Heyward may be the biggest matchup on the offensive side of the ball for New England. Or, Cameron Heyward Vs Ryan Wendell. It all comes down to Stork and if he plays, because if he doesn’t, then it looks like the rookie whose better at run blocking than pass blocking may get the nod at left guard since Wendell has experience at center. The Steelers aren’t the world’s best defense, but Heyward is a pretty good pass rusher and this OL has to play their best. The Steelers love to blitz and the Pats OL may be their weakest link right now, so it’s crucial they protect Tom Brady. As we all know, if the OL struggles the offense will too.
3. Heath Miller Vs LB Jamie Collins.
I’m not exactly sure who the Patriots will have on Heath Miller. It could LB Collins, SS Chung, or even FS McCourty. Miller is 6’5 and Chung is 5’11 while Collins is 6’4. But, Chung has the speed and ability to keep up with Miller, so they may try both and go with who covers the veteran tight end best. Tight Ends have been a problem for the Patriots for a while and I don’t see it being any different right now and they will get tested, thankfully, Thursday night. I say thankfully because it’s good to know about certain key areas earlier in the season than later to give the team plenty of time to correct it. Miller will get a lot of looks and throws from Big Ben, especially with their number 2 WR out. I would suggest playing Miller in your fantasy league if you don’t have Gronk, but buyer beware. He may not do great, but believe me he will get the chances to perform. If the Pats can shut down Miller they should win this game going away.