The NFL Preseason is officially over, and fans around the globe are now looking towards meaningful games starting in less than a week. Yes, the regular season is finally here in all its glory. But as the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the New England Patriots, fans are concerned — and rightfully so.
Compared to years past, the Patriots pose an extremely difficult challenge to open the season. Throw in the game being at Gillette Stadium, on Sunday Night Football and on the night the Patriots drop their sixth Super Bowl banner, it won’t be easy for the visiting team.
Notice I didn’t say it would be impossible, but just difficult.
The Patriots won’t be like playing the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, where most view the game as a tune up of sorts. No, the Patriots will require a mid-season performance from the Steelers if they want to leave with a huge win on the road.
But the Steelers have been in this situation before. They were in Foxborough in 2015 when the Patriots were coming off a Super Bowl victory. For many on this roster, this isn’t foreign territory, and the Patriots aren’t an unfamiliar foe.
However, we’ve all seen what Tom Brady can do, and has done, to the Steelers, mainly the secondary. Knowing this, it seemed prudent to make a declaration for fans to understand heading into Week 1.
If the Steelers stumble out of the gate in any way, shape or form, it isn’t the end of the world.
Sure, it would be nice to see the Steelers come out full throttle, clicking on all cylinders and besting the Patriots in their home stadium on what should be a joyous occasion for the New England fan base. But if the team gets tripped up, there is nothing to suggest this means the end is near for the 2019 Steelers.
It could actually be the total opposite effect.
Yes, there will be the lingering head-to-head loss, and the AFC loss on top of that, but the Steelers in all phases will be a completely different team in Week 17 compared to Week 1. Regardless of their Week 1 opponent, they will learn, adapt and hopefully improve.
Don’t take this as me setting you up for a loss, because it isn’t that at all. To be honest, I picked the Steelers to shock the football world in Week 1 back when the NFL schedule was released this spring. No, what I’m suggesting is this Steelers team won’t be defined by just one game.
Not in Week 1, not in Week 8 and not in Week 15.
Everyone who has followed the Steelers throughout the preseason has been impressed with a lot of aspects of this 2019 team. The athletic and fast defense, an offensive line in the prime of their careers and a quarterback who won’t be handcuffed as to where to throw the ball in any one direction to appease the individual.
But the realistic fan also knows there could be times where there are growing pains. Where things don’t go as planned. When there are miscommunications and mistakes made. The hope is these situations don’t result in game-changing plays, but rather just blips on the proverbial radar.
There will be some of those in Week 1, and every NFL team will experience these, but if the Steelers lose to the Patriots it won’t be the end of the world, or the 2019 season.