The Steelers will get the honor of opening up the regular season on a Thursday Night against the defending Super Bowl Champions, the New England Patriots.
Tom Brady and the Patriots have started a trend the past few seasons, starting slow and finishing fast, so tomorrow night we will see if that is a trend that will continue.
No matter how pretty or ugly it may be, a win for New England relies on three very simple keys.
1. Protect Tom Brady: Last year, I listed this as one of the most important keys in every game for an OL that gradually got better throughout the 2014 season, and 2015 will be no different, as they will continue to be one of the most important positions for the Patriots. They have to protect Tom Brady if they want to win this game. Whichever way the OL goes, the offense usually follows. Brady’s ability to move up and around the pocket came in handy several times last year, so hopefully with his ability to own the pocket, the OL can do their part in keeping it as clean as possible. If they give him time, he will give them touchdowns.
2. Pressure on Big Ben: The DL has to do two things tomorrow night, keep Big Ben in the pocket and get pressure on him. If Big Ben gets outside the pocket and throws on the run, he’s completing that big play almost every time. I’m not sure there is a better QB who throws on the run than Big Ben. Keeping him in the pocket and getting sacks will be a sure fire way of making sure he doesn’t kill you with Antonio Brown and a wonderful way to help the secondary.
3. Stopping the Tight End: The linebackers and SS Patrick Chung have their work cut out for them tomorrow night. They have to stop Heath Miller, whoever gets that assignment. Big Ben doesn’t have very many options outside of Brown to throw the ball to, so he will go to Mr. Reliable Heath Miller a lot tomorrow night. The Pats have struggled a lot at controlling the opposing team’s tight end, so this will be a huge test for them and one they really need to pass. When Big Ben does have time, not allowing him to throw to Heath Miller will be huge.