The Pittsburgh Steelers learned of the news with the rest of the world this week. That news being the team would be facing Tom Brady in their Week 1 game against the New England Patriots as his four-game suspension was eliminated by the Federal courts. See why this decision might actually be the best-case scenario for the Steelers as they begin their 2015 regular season.
Losing to Brady is better than losing to Garoppolo
1 - The number of opening game losses the Patriots have had since 2003.
Last year's second half meltdown, after taking a 10-point lead to the locker room at halftime, was the first opening day loss for the Brady Bunch in over a decade. Belichick is renowned for his preparation, and it shows in his having his team ready to play in week 1 while many other teams are still working out kinks.
On top of that, Thursday's game will be the first time the Patriots have opened at home since 2010, adding even more excitement to a crowd which will already be fired up over the outcome of Deflategate (and would've been as angry if the suspension had been upheld as they will be jubilant that it was vacated). With the Steelers already prone to communication errors with a backup center filling in for Pouncey, the noise level is going to be even more of a problem.
The bottom line is that it would've taken a really, really bad performance by Garoppolo to offset the advantages the Patriots have coming into the game completely aside from talent matchups. Odds were stacked against the Steelers anyway, and it's both more dignified and better experience to lose to a starter than a backup. Brady's participation in the game means avoiding the worst case scenario of losing to Garoppolo, and that alone is something.
Beating Brady is better than beating Garoppolo
2 - The number of interceptions Brady threw this preseason, is part of a larger picture of very underwhelming character.
Brady's stat line this preseason is a far cry from his usual production over the prior 5 years.
A 20-percent drop in completion rate, and only 18 attempts for a QB used to getting 40 highlight the statistical evidence that Brady's off season problems may have compromised his readiness for week 1.
Granted, we're talking about the kind of experienced veteran that probably doesn't need a preseason at all, and Belichick felt confident enough in Brady's level of preparation to hold him out of the fourth preseason game. With the distraction removed and a solid week of preparation, Brady will probably come out firing on all cylinders. If you're looking for a ray of sunshine, though, there is evidence to suggest Brady might have some rust going into Thursday's game. The fact that Edelman and LaFell might not be available won't help him either.
Some folks might scoff at the idea of the invincible machine that is Tom Brady having a bad game under any circumstance. The narrative out there of Tom Brady as a model of consistency is actually far from the truth, especially recently.
In the past two years, Brady has had a passer rating in the 60's or lower in 7 games, 5 of which resulted in losses. That's 5 games more than Ben Roethlisberger or Tony Romo in the same span, and 6 more than Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers (though 3 less than Joe Flacco's 10). Brady is certainly capable of having a bad game even when he's fully prepared. If he's less than fully prepared and manages to post a stinker on Thursday, the Steelers could come away with a stunning statement win that would indeed be the best-case scenario.