The Steelers open their season Sunday Night in Massachusetts against a team that has largely dominated them, and the league, since 2001. Some prognosticators feel this epic New England Patriots dynasty will fade soon, with some seeing them fade to black-and-gold this weekend.
BTSC’s resident heels, The Steelers Hangover’s Tony Defeo and Bryan Anthony Davis, have differing viewpoints on this particular subject. Read them as they slug it out in text below.
Tales of the New England Patriots’ demise have been greatly exaggerated
Bryan Anthony Davis’ Point: Agreed
I am one who find myself thoroughly excited by the upcoming football season. The 87th version of the Pittsburgh Steelers have great potential and the ability to hang a seventh banner from the rafters at Heinz Field boasting seven Super Bowl championships. But here’s the rub, the Steelers will be watching as maintenance folk employed by the New England Patriots raise their franchises sixth that tied what they accomplished eleven seasons ago.
After the most-promising Steelers preseason in eons and significant losses to the roster in New England, fans of Steeler Nation feel that the Patriots are ripe for the picking and that harvest will begin on Sunday Night Football in America under the watchful eye of spotter “Malibu” Kelly Hayes. True...Rob Gronkowski will be dominating and shirtless somewhere other than Foxborough. Since 2010, the former Pats’ TE has soured the stomachs of Steeler staffers with the ferocity of a gentleman’s club buffet. He won’t be there, nor will another Steeler killer by the name of (new Carolina Panther) Chris Hogan. LT/FA departure Trent Brown left too. Then there’s stalwarts of the defensive line, Trey Flowers, Adrian Clayborn and Malcolm Brown, who left via free agency and their DC, Brian Flores, who left to become the new HC/Director of FEMA of the Miami Dolphins.
Significant losses...heck yeah. But nobody restocks the cupboard like the defending champs. DE Michael Bennett menacingly arrived via trade and Mike Pennel came from the Jets as highly regarded. They resigned most of their special teams unit of K Stephen Gostkowski, P Ryan Allen and Ace Matthew Slater (No relation to AC Slater of Saved By the Bell fame). WR Demaryius Thomas, WR Dontrelle Inman and TE Ben Watson, late of Houston, Indianapolis and New Orleans respectively, will be added targets for Brady. Jamie Collins is back linebacking after his hiatus from real football as a Cleveland Brown. Plus Edge Rusher Chase Winovich from Michigan is for freaking real. Those are just some of the big additions to go with Sony Michel and Julian Edelman who are dangerous offensive threats.
But that’s not the real reason I say that you can’t send this team out to pasture just yet. They have Bill Belichick and the Dick Clark of football, Tom Brady. As long as they are on that team and together, they will always be a threat to hoist the Lombadi and piss everybody in the free world off. Hell, that combo would win at least 12 games a year with Dave Schofield as their kicker. The Steelers may have emerged triumphant last season, but they were a desperate team and played with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns, not to mention that the game was at home. Since 2002, I have witnessed the Steelers drop three season openers in Gillette Stadium. They haven’t won in that stadium since 2008 and have beaten Brady there never. This team wants No. 7 with the passion that Pittsburgh does and is still a threat to party in a rainfall of confetti again in 2020. I’m not saying Pittsburgh won’t or can’t win there. I’m just saying that they will need a perfect storm to do so and I’m not sure that’s in the forecast.
Tony Defeo’s Counterpoint: Disagree
Bryan Anthony Davis, I can’t believe we share the same name. But I will pray to Saint Anthony in the hopes that you’ll find whatever it is you have lost that has led you to live in your fears.
First of all, as you laid out in your “analysis,” the Patriots experienced a lot of turnover this past offseason. Super Bowl Champions or not, I have a hard time believing they can just step right into the opening regular season game against a really good opponent and do so with the arrow already pointed toward “gel.” I mean, Mike Pennel? Hello, Bryan, this the Patriots, the tenant that has been living in your head rent-free. I’m still not going to pay the rent, and I want you to upgrade my cable package for the price of zero.
And what about the Patriots compromised offensive line, starting with center Ted Karras, who will be filling in for incumbent David Andrews? Karras is the great nephew of the late, great Alex Karras, a former NFL player most known for his starring role in the 1980s hit sitcom, Webster. Karras will likely look as tiny as Webster while dealing with Javon Hargrave, Mr. Contract Year. And if New England has to pay special attention to Hargrave, that’s just going to make it more difficult to stop the beasts that are often Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt. In other words, the Steelers defensive line figures to be a strength in this game. And what’s the best way to slow down Tom Brady? Pressure him up the middle. He, like most quarterbacks, hates when you mess with his pocket. Brady may be able to get the football away in time to avoid the outside pressure of both T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, but good luck stepping up into a continuously collapsing pocket. Besides all of that, Brady is 42 years old. People that age can’t trip and fall a lot without risk of breaking a hip.
As far as the Patriots tight ends, with Rob Gronkowski retired and Ben Watson suspended for PEDs (there the Patriots go, cheating again), some guy named Matt LaCosse figures to get whatever reps New England is willing to give him. I realize LaCosse rhymes with lacrosse, and the Steelers were once victimized in the AFC Championship Game by Chris Hogan, but I’m not worried. Bottom line, if the Steelers new and super-fast inside linebackers can’t deal with a Lacosse tight end, they might as well go play lacrosse.
Even without Gronk, I respect what the Patriots are capable of on offense with receivers like Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon. For that matter, I fully expect the Patriots to exploit the Steelers sub-packages by running the football—and Sony Michel and James White are certainly no slouches. However, I feel as if Pittsburgh’s overall speed on defense will be able to quickly shut down whatever holes New England is able to open up on offense. As for stopping Brady, as I said, the pressure up the middle should be enough to stop him just enough times throughout the evening.
As for the offense, it will certainly have its hands full against a rather underrated defense. But even without Antonio Brown, the Steelers will be able to throw a ton of weapons at the Patriots no-name unit. And did you hear, Bryan? AB is facing a suspension with the Raiders for acting like AB. Even if he manages to escape that plight in Week 1, he’ll still be forced to watch his old team on Sunday Night Football (well, you can’t really force AB to do anything, but you know he’s going to be tuned in).
Can you just imagine how much Brown’s frostbitten feet would hurt if he sees 2019 Steelers team MVP JuJu Smith-Schuster have a huge night? Better yet, what if Ben Roethlisberger lights up New England’s defense without Brown? Brown would melt down so much, his $20,000 GOAT ring would be the only thing left on his hotel room bed (provided he has to stay in a hotel).
And I can’t believe I made it this far without mentioning that this Sunday night’s game is a five-star match-up. And why is it a five-star match-up? Because the Steelers are in it. You know how they do in these kinds of games? Prime time, on the road, against a team nobody expects them to beat? Come on.
The Steelers are getting the Patriots at the just right time. Not only is New England dealing with a lot of roster turnover from the last time it won a Super Bowl, this whole opening night celebration will be one huge distraction. That’s right, the Patriots will be dealing with a dreaded distraction.
There is no way the Steelers lose to a team dealing with a distraction. As we all know, you can’t win a football game if you’re thinking about other stuff.
The Steelers will not only cover, they’ll win.
Bryan Anthony Davis’ Counter-Counterpoint: Disagree with Tony
No wonder readers want to beat you up. But I hope you’re right.
Who is on the money? Who is way off base? Sunday Night’s game will help moderate this debate even more. But now, it’s your chance to chime in below in the comments section and in the poll below.
Do you agree more with Bryan Anthony or Tony on the state of the New England Patriots?
This poll is closed
BAD: The Patriots are still very dangerous.
Tony: The Pats are no longer a juggernaut.