The Pittsburgh Steelers will be playing both teams who were in Super Bowl 49, and both games will be road games. If the game in Seattle against the Seahawks is their most difficult road trip due to distance of travel and home field advantage, the game in Foxborough at Gillette Stadium against the New England Patriots would be a close second place.
New England Patriots
2014: 12-4 (1st Place AFC East), 4-2 within the AFC East, 9-3 within the AFC
2014 vs. the Steelers: Did not play
Potential Free Agents: LS Danny Aiken, LB Akeem Ayers, DE Alan Branch, LB Jonathan Casillas, OL Dan Connolly, K Stephen Gostkowski, S Devin McCourty, RB Stevan Ridley, RB Shane Vereen, LB Chris White, TE Steven Maneri (RFA).
2015 NFL Draft: 32nd selection
In the final game of the preview of the Steelers' 2015 opponents, it only seems fitting the series ends in New England with yet another road trip to Foxborough to face Tom Brady and the Super Bowl champion Patriots. The Steelers will travel to play both teams who represented both the AFC and NFC in last year's Super Bowl, and both games are on the road. There is growing suspicion the Steelers could be the team selected to kick off the 2015 season in New England on the opening Thursday night prime time game, but either way, these teams will look different in 2015 compared to their 2014 teams.
The Patriots are facing some difficult decisions within their secondary with Darrelle Revis and Devin McCourty possibly set to test free agency. Along with the secondary, both RB Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen are most likely going to look for new homes with the team picking up former Steelers RB LeGarrette Blount last season.
Whenever the Steelers play the Patriots, it will be a difficult matchup for the Steelers. There is no doubt Pittsburgh will be able to put points up on any NFL team in 2015 if everyone remains healthy, but if the Steelers play the Patriots in the first game of the 2015 season, they will most likely be without Le'Veon Bell as he is facing a suspension due to his marijuana DUI last year.
The true challenge will be the Pittsburgh defense defending the likes of Brady, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski, along with other athletic tight ends, have caused the Steelers' defense fits in terms of matchups. The last time the Steelers made the trip to New England, they were embarassed 55-31, and in the last 11 games against the reigning Super Bowl champions the Steelers are 3-8 with one of those wins being when Brady was lost for the year with a knee injury.
It was mentioned in the Seahawks preview where the game would be considered a measuring stick for the Steelers, and this game would follow suit in that regard. If the Steelers want to be considered a contender, beating the Patriots on their home field will go a long way towards solidifying themselves as contenders and not pretenders.
The Steelers will be considered underdogs in this game, something the team should embrace in a year where their 2015 schedule is the toughest among all 32 NFL teams.