The Patriots will host the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight on NBC at 8:30 p.m. EST.
The New England Patriots will hang Super Bowl banner number 4 tonight before the game, so don’t miss it!
A few weeks ago, the Patriots were not sure they would have their golden boy Tom Brady, but over the past week they breathed a sign of relief when his suspension was overturned and number 12 would lead the team out of the tunnel tonight.
Tom Brady being out there changes everything.
On offense, the Patriots will do what they do best and that’s pass the football against a shaky Steelers secondary. Brady may be without Brandon LaFell, but he will still have plenty of firepower to shoot the Steelers defense with, Amendola, Edelman, Chandler, and Gronk. If the OL can protect Tom Brady, which will be no easy task for an offensive line that will most likely be starting two rookies, he will put the points up tonight. If they don’t do a good job protecting Tom Brady, the offense will struggle.
The Steelers said they will jam Gronk at the line, which means they will do their very best to hit him before he gets off the line to disrupt his timing and route with Tom Brady, so look for the big man to be going in motion a lot tonight to counter the Steelers jams.
On the Steelers offensive side, I can see them being pass heavy and trying to test the Patriots secondary, especially Butler.
To counter the Steelers offensive passing game, the Patriots will look to keep Big Ben in the pocket and pressure him. They cannot let him out of the pocket to make plays on the run because he will, but if they can keep him inside the pocket and get pressure, he will struggle.
The Patriots may try some man coverage with Butler shadowing Brown, to see how well it works, but they might be mixing and matching their coverages all night. If the defensive line does its job and keep Big Ben on the ground, the secondary won’t have a problem.
If it is man coverage tonight, I expect to see Bradley Fletcher on the outside against either rookie Sammie Coats or Darrius Heyward-Bey. Both, he matches up with height wise. Tarell Brown will draw Markus Wheaton.
Again, they may or may not stick with man coverage all night, but I expect to see different matchups and coverages from the Patriots.
They also have to stop the run, even though the Steelers will be without Bell, they can’t let Williams get going.
This couldn’t be a more perfect match to start the season for the Patriots defense because they need to be tested and they need to learn while under fire against a .500 team.
The Steelers defense will try to bring the pressure in every way defensively possible. They know the OL is a bit shaky and they will have two rookies out there, so they will be blitz heavy, and try to get pressure sometimes with a four man rush. That is why it is very important for the OL to hold up tonight or the offense will struggle.
It’s a good test for the OL tonight, trail under fire.