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Know Your Steelers Enemy, Week 15: The New England Patriots

Sure you know them, but the Pats go deeper than Brady and Gronk. Take a closer look at the Steelers’ epic foe, the 2017 New England Patriots.

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Patriots have owned the Steelers as of late. Even though, they are 15-15 all-time...Pittsburgh hasn't beaten them since 2011 and have lost four straight. New England lost last week to their division nemesis, the Dolphins. Beating the Pats twice in a row is daunting. Here’s a look at the dudes that are looking to end the Steelers’ Egypt-game winning streak.

COACHES:

HC: Bill Belichick

OC: Josh McDaniels

D.C.: Matt Patricia

ST: Joe Judge

OFFENSE

*No. 12 QB Tom Brady

During his almost-certain Hall of Fame career in New England, No. 12 and his head coach have had a magical union together in New England, winning five Super Bowls together. During the 2017 regular season, Brady threw for 3,865 yards with 27 touchdown passes and tossed only six interceptions. Last week, against Miami, Brady wasn’t his normal self. He only completed 24 of 43 passes and tossed for one score along with two interceptions in a losing cause. Brady is great at keeping defenses off balance and I don't expect the Pats to struggle two weeks in a row. And by the way, he gets Gronk back this week.

Other Patriots Quarterbacks to Note: No. 2 Brian Hoyer

*No. 33 RB Dion Lewis

The former Pitt star is the team's leading rusher with 607 yards on the ground and 20 catches out of the backfield. The Pats can kill you many ways at this position with Rex Burkhead (4 Rushing and 3 Receiving TDs), James White (3 Receiving TDs) and Mike Gillislee (4 Rushing TDs), but Lewis is explosive any time he touches the ball. With the Steelers losing speed at linebacker, Lewis, who catches everything thrown to him, may be tough to contain.

Other Patriots Running Backs to Note: *No. 28 James White, No. 34 Rex Burkhead, No. 35 Mike Gillislee, No. 38 Brandon Bolden, No. 46 FB James Develin

*No. 14 WR Brandin Cooks

Cooks is Brady's main deep threat and top-targeted receiver (91). Cooks averages 17.1 yards per catch and has 54 catches on the year for 924 yards and five TDs. The Steelers’ secondary will need to pay close attention to the former Saint.

Other Patriots Wide Receivers to Note: *No. 15 Chris Hogan, No. 80 Danny Amendola, No. 13 Phillip Dorsett, No. 18 Matthew Slater, No. 11 Julian Edelman (IR), Kenny Britt

*No. 87 TE Rob Gronkowski

The Steelers seem to always have trouble with Gronk. He victimized them in the 2015 opener for three scores and also last year with four catches for 94 yards and a TD. Since his rookie season in 2010, Rob Gronkowski has 30 catches on 36 targets for 497 yards and eight touchdowns against the Steelers. He also blocks well, freeing up Pats’ runners. Gronk returns to Heinz Field from his suspension and he can make life miserable for the Shazier-less Steelers over the middle.

Other Patriots Tight Ends to Note: No. 83 Dwayne Allen, No. 47 Jacob Hollister, No. 88 Martellus Bennett (IR)

*No. 77 LT Nate Solder

Again this season, the Pats OL is thought not to be as formidable as it’s been during recent years in New England. Pro Bowl RT Marcus Cannon is now on IR, leaving Nate Solder to continue anchoring the line. Solder is their top pass-blocker and he’s been very solid at protecting the blind side for their franchise quarterback. The 6'8" left tackle allows very few pressures and sacks. He needs to with Brady playing better when he’s kept clean. The matchup with T.J. Watt could be top-notch.

Other Patriots Offensive Linemen to Note: *No. 62 LG Joe Thuney, No. 60 *C David Andrews, *No. 69 RG Shaquille Mason, No. 61 RT Marcus Cannon (IR), *No. 68 T LaAdrian Waddle, No. 74 G Cole Croston, No. 75 G/C Ted Karras, No. 71 Cameron Fleming

DEFENSE

*No. 98 RDE Trey Flowers

Flowers, Malcolm Brown and Alan Branch are all formidable against the run, making this matchup with the Steelers OL and Le’Veon Bell pretty enticing. However, these guys are beat up. Branch hasn’t participated in practice (as of Wednesday) with a bad knee, while Flowers and Wise have been limited with rib and ankle injuries respectively. Flowers, coming off of the edge, has six sacks to lead New England in 2017.

Other Patriots Defensive Linemen to Note: *No. 93 LDE Lawrence Guy, *No. 91 DT Deatrich Wise Jr., *No. 90 DT Malcolm Brown, No. 92 DE Geneo Grissom, No. 97 DT Alan Branch, No. 70 DT Adam Butler, No. 94 DE Ricky-Jean Francois, No. 55 DE Eric Lee, No. 92 DE Geneo Grissom

*No. 53 SLB Kyle Van Noy

Van Noy was an unsung hero for this defense last year and has emerged as an impactful and reliable starter with great speed. He has 73 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 2017. If he returns from a knee injury, his matchup with Bell will be one to watch.

Other Patriots Linebackers to Note: *No. 52 WLB Elandon Roberts, No. 59 SLB Marquis Flowers, No. 45 MLB David Harris, No. 50 LB Nicholas Grigsby, No. 51 Trevor Reilly, No. 54 Dont'a Hightower (IR)

*No. 21 LCB Malcolm Butler

Even with Stephon Gilmore in the mix, the Super Bowl hero from two years ago is the top cover-corner for New England. Butler sticks to receivers like crazy glue and he’s had 11 pass defenses and two picks on the season. He’s becoming upper-echelon but still can be beaten on back-shoulder fades.

Other Patriots Defensive Backs to Note: *No. 24 RCB Stephon Gilmore, *No. 23 SS Patrick Chung, *No. 32 FS Devin McCourty, No. 31 CB Jonathan Jones, No. 25 CB Eric Rowe, No. 29 CB Johnson Bademosi, No. 37 S Jordan Richards, *No. 30 S Duron Harmon, No. 36 S Brandon King, No. 43 S Nate Ebner (IR)

SPECIAL TEAMS

No. 3 K Stephen Gostkowski

Year after year, the Pats kicker personifies ultra-reliability. Gostkowski is a 3-time All-Pro, a 4-time selection to the Pro Bowl and a 5-time NFL leading scorer. In 2017, Gostkowski is 31 of 34 and his longest FG was only from 62-yards out. From 50-plus, Gostkowski is 4/4 on the year and 23/30 career.

Other Patriots Special Teamers to Note: No. 6 P Ryan Allen, No. 49 LS Joe Cardona, No. 80 PR Danny Amendola, No. 33 KR Dion Lewis, No. 18 KR Matthew Slater, No. 13 PR Phillip Dorsett