In almost every game there are certain players who step up above everybody else to help their team win, so tomorrow night in Foxboro, here are the three players I believe will do just that.
1. TE Rob Gronkowski: He’s the best tight end in the league and almost unstoppable. The Steelers think they have a way to slow him down, by jamming him at the line of scrimmage. Every team goes into every game against the Patriots with an idea they think will work against Gronk, and it rarely does. Gronk isn’t Jimmy Graham, he doesn’t mind being physical or getting hit, but it’s not the worst idea. Trying to break up the timing between Brady and Gronk will be the Steelers best bet because Brady will go to Gronk a lot in this game. The thing is, will jamming him actually work? The Steelers are saying this before the game so it’s either a decoy or confidence borderline cockiness coming from them. I don’t think it will work and I expect Gronk to go off in this game. At least, he has too, if the Pats are going to win. Also Chandler may play a big part in helping Gronk and Brady out, especially if Gronk gets doubled, which I fully expect since the Pats are thin at wide out. The tight ends will be huge in this game, and knowing the chemistry between Brady and Gronk, things will go better if Gronk has a big night.
2. DT Dominique Easley: Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers starting center, won’t be out there for a little Gator-on-Gator crime, so Easley will be going against the backup Cody Wallace. That should favor the 2nd year defensive stud, Easley, who has a motor on him. He, hopefully, will be in the backfield on every play, disrupting the run and passing game. If Easley plays well, it’ll be hard for Pittsburgh to get anything going.
3. FS Devin McCourty: He doesn’t have to make the big plays tomorrow night, he just has to get his secondary in order. There are no returning starters at cornerback for the Patriots, so they will need the guidance of their captain Devin McCourty. Butler was with the team last year, but this will be his first time as the team’s number one corner in only his 2nd year. Brown and Fletcher weren’t with New England last year, so it’s all a learning curve for the duo. More than ever, the secondary needs McCourty’s help. He has a lot to do tomorrow night. Get the corners prepared for each play, get them lined up and in position, and provide safety help over the top against Antonio Brown, one of the best wide outs in the NFL. McCourty’s leadership and skills will be on display tomorrow night.