NFL

Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots Preview

James Conner

Welcome to the most comprehensive Pittsburgh Steelers Game Day Preview on the internet! NGSC Sports brings you your one stop shop for everything you need to know about the Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich of Pittsburgh SportsNation brings you inside the huddle for both teams, providing all fans with a Game Story, Steelers Keys to Victory, Score Prediction, Fantasy Football Focus, Game Information, a detailed breakdown of each team, Individual Stats, and Team Stats. Heck, you’ll even know the weather at kickoff! The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!

STEELERS OUT TO PROVE THEIR FALL IS GREATLY EXAGGERATED AS 2019 SEASON OPENS VS NEW ENGLAND

When you grow up in Pittsburgh, the mentality, no matter what the subject, is to win. Expectations are always high for Pittsburgh’s sports teams, especially the Steelers and Penguins of the NHL. The Pirates, well, let’s talk about that another day. Fear of an opponent is not an option.

That is, except when you mention the New England Patriots.

Be it the fans, or the local media, when you hear the name Patriots mentioned, the majority will become as meek as meerkats. No matter when or where the Steelers play the Patriots, most people expect the worst in the eventual outcome of the game.

It’s no big surprise when you see the numbers Tom Brady and his team has put up vs the Steelers since 2001. They always seem to get the better of the Steelers.

Not anymore. If it weren’t for one of the worst calls in NFL history, the Steelers would be riding a two game winning streak against these very same Patriots when the two teams meet in the 2019 season opener, Sunday night in Foxborough.

The Patriots enter this season as defending Super Bowl champions, but they will be without the anchor of their offensive line in David Andrews. Tom Brady’s favorite weapon (and Steelers killer) Rob Gronkowski is retired. The Steelers traded away one of the NFL’s greatest receivers in Antonio Brown, but cleansed the team of a cancer in the locker-room in the process. Just look at the mayhem Brown is causing for the Oakland Raiders, and he hasn’t even suited for one game yet. Pittsburgh added much needed speed on defense in linebacker Mark Baron from the LA Rams, linebacker Devin Bush, 10th pick out of the draft from Michigan, and corner Steven Nelson from the Chiefs.

The rejuvenated Steelers enter the 2019 season with a huge chip on their shoulders and are ready to prove all of the doubters wrong.

It all starts when the ball is kicked off inside Gillette Stadium at 8:20 pm Sunday night.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is eager to utilize his offense weapons.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who can be successful and help us win football games,” Roethlisberger said. “Kind of my style is spreading it around anyway.”

The Steelers will have the services of James Conner available this time, unlike last year when Conner was injured. Jaylen Samuels was the featured back in the Steelers 17-10 win over the Patriots. Samuels gashed the Patriots for 142 yards rushing and added 30 receiving.

“They didn’t really know what we were going to do not having our No. 1 running back in there,” Roethlisberger said of last year. “They always do a good job of combo-ing your top two guys whether it’s a receiver, running back, tight end. Whoever they deem as your top two, they double, and that’s what we anticipate this year.

“The key is going to be early on figuring out who they deem as your top two and go from there.”

Defensively, will have to focus on who Brady’s new top target will be, which undoubtedly will be Julien Edelman, right?

“He’s thoughtful about how he’s going to attack you,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “He’s going to hit you with known weapons. He’s going to hit you with lesser-known weapons. You better focus your energies on him and work out from there.”

Pittsburgh cornerback Joe Haden is excited for the challenge Brady brings.

“We have so many dues who can cover,” Haden said. “We have a lot of safeties that can cover, we have a lot of corners, just having a nickel, having a dime, having Kam Kelly being able to play nickel, dime and safety … Cam Sutton being able to do the same thing, Mike Hilton being able to do the same thing. Then you’ve got Terrell (Edmunds) who can play safety and nickel. I think it just helps us out so much that everybody can do the positions. It’s not too much on their plate, and it makes us able to give different looks.”

Kameron Kelly will be making his NFL debut, and will start in place of the injured Sean Davis.

“The Patriots are real good with switching up their personnel, putting a different personnel (group) out there but getting you in different looks and making you adjust,” Kelly said. “Now, football is a game of chess, so we are trying to play chess with them too. We are going to try to move people around, just make sure everybody is versatile.”

Another player the Steelers are excited to introduce to the NFL is their 1st round pick Devin Bush, who opened many eyes very wide in his first training camp. The speedy and versatile linebacker is ready to wreak havoc upon opposing offenses.

“I don’t really get nervous,” Bush told the Trib’s Kevin Gorman, smiling. “I’m not trying to be all cocky or anything, I’ve just got a lot of confidence.”

Pittsburgh’s other off-season defensive addition, Mark Baron, sees a great future ahead for Bush.

“He’s been ready. He’s a football player and a good one at that. I most definitely think he’s ready,” Barron said. “He’s a smart football player and that’s what it really takes. Physically, he got everything he needs. It’s being up to speed mentally and I think he’s ready for that.”

Pittsburgh will more than likely utilize their speed on defense to rattle Tom Brady. T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, and Bush are set to let the dogs loose upon Brady, whom they know gets the ball out quickly after the snap.

“Brady gets the ball out pretty fast,” Bush said, “so if I’m getting there fast and he’s not getting the ball out then I’m winning.”

Steelers Keys to Victory

  1. Play Man-to-Man Coverage on defense: The Steelers kept Brady and the Patriots to 10 points last year doing this.
  2. Utilize All Weapons: No more greed from Antonio Brown. The Steelers are gifted with talent on offense. Use all of them to your advantage.
  3. Pressure Tom Brady: Tom Terrific does not like being hit. Make him as uncomfortable as possible.

 

Prediction

After an empty feeling missing the playoffs on an “what could’ve been” team, and a major retooling of the defense this off-season, the moment you’ve been waiting for is finally here.

Sunday night at 8:20 pm, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, the Pittsburgh Steelers open the 2019 NFL season against the defending Super Champion New England Patriots.

Pittsburgh will be out to show the world that they are still one of the top teams in the league. What better place to start than at a venue that has been a house of horrors for the Steelers?

The game plan should be pretty simple for the Steelers. Utilize your weapons offensively by establishing the running game, and let Ben Roethlisberger make plays with a plethora of choices to throw to, including Juju Smith-Schuster, who caught 111 passes for 1,426 yards and seven scores in 2018. Vance McDonald may become a bigger target in the passing game now that Antonio Brown is no longer around. James Washington is looking to have a breakout season, and newly acquired Donte Moncrief may become a Big Ben favorite when tough yards are needed.

James Conner and Jaylen Samuels are ready to form a one-two punch out of the backfield. Samuels is especially dangerous out of the backfield catching passes.

The defense is rejuvenated with new talent. The Steelers must use their newfound speed to harass Tom Brady and lay some licks to him. Pittsburgh was successful in bottling up the Patriot’s offense last year by playing man-to-man defense. That is a must option Sunday night.

Now it’s time to put it all together and begin the season on a high note, against one of the league’s best teams.

When these two teams meet, it’s always a fierce battle. The Patriots may come out either flat or juiced after they raise the banner for their 6th championship during the pregame. It’s up to the Steelers to take the Patriot’s best shot and survive, or take advantage of a rusty start. Ball security is a must, especially for Roethlisberger in the redzone. Smart choices and no forced passes are a must.

Expect another epic game between these two teams. It will be a chess match for awhile, but in the end, expect the Steelers to exorcise the ghosts of the past, and head to their home opener vs Seattle with a 1-0 record.

Steelers 24 Patriots 17

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Game Information

NFL Week 1

Pittsburgh at New England Patriots

  • Venue: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA. | Field: Kentucky Bluegrass
  • Game-time: Sunday, September 8th, at 8:20 pm ET
  • Game Tickets Link
  • TV: NBC (WPXI Channel 11 in Pittsburgh) | Announcers: Al Michaels (play-by-play) Cris Collinsworth (analyst) | Michele Tafoya (reporter)
  • Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE & WBGG 970 AM | Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Tunch Ilkin (analyst) | Craig Wolfley (sideline) Missi Matthews (sideline)
  • Internet Broadcast: Steelers Nation Radio (SNR) on Steelers.com
  • Weather at Kickoff: 70 and clear. Winds WNW 8 mph.
  • Vegas Line: New England -5.5

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Pittsburgh Steelers vs New England Patriots History

Series History: Began in 1972

  • Steelers are 15-12 overall vs New England
  • At Home: 12-10
  • On Road: 4-6
  • Post-Season: 1-4
  • Streak: Steelers won last meeting.
  • Last Regular Season Meeting: Steelers Win, 17-10 (Dec. 16, 2018)
  • Last Post-Season Meeting:  Steelers Lost, 36-17 (Jan. 22, 2017 in Foxborough | AFC Championship)

Did You Know?* 

  • New England asst. ST coach Ray Ventrone was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., and is a graduate of Chartiers Valley High School.
  • QB Ben Roethlisberger and C Maurkice Pouncey will serve as the offensive captains, DT Cameron Heyward will serve as the defensive captain and FB Roosevelt Nix will serve as the special teams captain.
  • Roethlisberger earned 117 wins in his first 175 regular-season starts, which is the second-most by an NFL QB in NFL history through 175 starts (Tom Brady, 136).
  • Since 1960, Pittsburgh is 13-2-1 on Kickoff Weekend when a Steelers running back rushes for 100 yards or more.
  • Mike Tomlin has guided Pittsburgh to a 38-19 overall record in regular-season primetime games.
  • WR JuJu Smith-Schuster established single-season career highs for receptions (111) and receiving yards (1,426) in 2018, leading the Steelers’ offense in both categories.
  • RB James Conner became the first player in team history with at least 1,000 scrimmage yards and 10 TDs in the team’s first eight games of a season (2018), and scored at least one TD in five straight games (Games 5-9).
  • DT Cameron Heyward recorded 8.0 sacks in 2018, tied for the sixth-most among all NFL defensive tackles.
  • LB T.J. Watt led Pittsburgh’s defense and tied for second among all NFL linebackers with 13.0 sacks in 2018.

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Fantasy Football Focus

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Start: QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB James Conner, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
  • Sleeper: TE Vance McDonald, WR James Washington
  • Sit: Steelers Defense

 

New England Patriots

  • Start: QB Tom Brady, WR Julien Edelman
  • Sleeper: RB Sony Michel
  • Sit: WR Josh Gordon, Patriots Defense

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Steelers

A look at the Pittsburgh Steelers!

 

Scouting the Steelers

OFFENSE (Pro Style)

Quarterback

Ben Roethlisberger

One of the best in history. Great arm and always looking to extend a play to make yards.

  • Passing Yards: 0 | TD Passes: 0 | Interceptions: 0 | Sacks: 0 | Yards Rushing: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0

Mason Rudolph

The Heir to Big Ben’s Throne?

  • Passing Yards: 0 | TD Passes: 0 | Interceptions: 0 | Sacks: 0 | Yards Rushing: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0

 

Running Backs

James Conner

Stronger, leaner, and healthy, Conner looks to another Pro Bowl season.

  • Yards Rushing: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0 | Receptions: 0 | Yards Receiving: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Jaylen Samuels

Dynamic playmaker who can play several positions.

  • Yards Rushing: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0 | Receptions: 0 | Yards Receiving: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Benny Snell, Jr.

Will be used to spell Conner and possibly short yardage situations.

  • Yards Rushing: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0 | Receptions: 0 | Yards Receiving: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Roosevelt Nix (Fullback)

  • Yards Rushing: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0 | Receptions: 0 | Yards Receiving: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0

 

 

Wide Receivers

Juju Smith-Schuster

One of the league’s best already. Smith-Schuster is set to prove he is a true #1 receiver for the Steelers.

  • Receptions: 0 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0 | Rushing Yards: 0  | Rushing TD’s: 0

Donte Moncrief

Great routes and reliable hands. Looking to become a favorite of Rothlisberger.

  • Receptions: 0 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0 | Rushing Yards: 0  | Rushing TD’s: 0

James Washington

Ready to have a breakout season and establish himself as a big time playmaker in the NFL.

  • Receptions: 0 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0 | Rushing Yards: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0

Ryan Switzer

Superb in the slot. Will return punts and kicks.

  • Receptions: 0 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0 | Rushing Yards: 0  | Rushing TD’s: 0

Dointae Johnson

Talented rookie whose time will come to shine. Blessed with wicked moves in open space.

Versatile player who also moonlights as a RB and at cornerback. Special athlete.

  • Receptions: 0 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0 | Rushing Yards: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0

 

Tight Ends

Vance McDonald

The Vanimal, when unleashed, is a sight to see. Could be a major part of offense if utilized correctly.

  • Receptions: 0 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0 | Rushing Yards: 0  | Rushing TD’s: 0

Xavier Grimble

  • Receptions: 0 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0 | Rushing Yards: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0

*Denotes Starter

 

OFFENSIVE LINE

Left Tackle: Alejandro Villanueva | Left Guard: Ramon Foster | Center: Maurkice Pouncey | Right Guard: David DeCastro | Right Tackle: Matt Feller

 

DEFENSE (Base 3-4)

Defensive End: Cam Heyward | Defensive Tackle: Javon Hargrave/Dan McCullers | Defensive End: Stephon Tuitt

Left OLB: T.J. Watt | Left MLB: Mark Barron/Devin Bush | Right MLB: Vince Willams | Right OLB: Bud Dupree

Cornerback: Joe Haden | Strong Safety: Terrell Edmunds | Free Safety: Kameron Kelly/Sean Davis | Cornerback: Steven Nelson

Nickle: Mike Hilton/Cameron Sutton

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Placekicker

Chris Boswell

  • Extra Points: 0-0 | FG: 0-0 | 0-19:  0-0 | 20-29:  0-0 | 30-39:  0-0 | 40-49:  0-0 | 50+:  0-0 | Long: 0

 

Punter

Jordan Berry

  • Yards per Punt: 0

 

Kickoff Returner

Ryan Switzer

  • Yards per Kickoff Return: N/A | Return TD’s: 0

 

Punt Returner

Ryan Switzer

  • Yards per Kickoff Return: N/A | Return TD’s: 0

 

Pittsburgh Injury Report (9/6/19)

  • Out: None
  • Doubtful: S Sean Davis (Ankle)
  • Questionable: None
  • Probable: None

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Patriots

A look at the New England Patriots!

 

Scouting the Patriots

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Tom Brady

Perhaps the greatest QB of all time? Brady isn’t what he was five years ago, but he is still as dangerous as it gets. Will read you defense and pick apart your weaknesses.

  • Passing Yards: 0 | TD Passes: 0 | Interceptions: 0 | Sacks: 0 | Yards Rushing: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0

 

Running Backs

Sony Michel

Michel is hoping to be the bell cow runner for the Patriots in 2019.

  • Yards Rushing: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0 | Receptions: 0 | Yards Receiving: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0

James White

Ever dangerous out of the backfield, you always need to know where he is on the field.

  • Yards Rushing: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0 | Receptions: 0 | Yards Receiving: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0

James Develin

Like James White, utilizes his speed and shiftiness to take advantage of defenses.

  • Yards Rushing: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0 | Receptions: 0 | Yards Receiving: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Rex Burkhead

  • Yards Rushing: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0 | Receptions: 0 | Yards Receiving: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0

 

Wide Receivers

Julien Edelman

Brady’s favorite target with Rob Gronkowski retired. Small, but mighty. Always gets the tough yards when called upon.

  • Receptions: 0 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0 | Rushing Yards: 0  | Rushing TD’s: 0

Josh Gordon

Awesome talent but has been limited in playing due to substance abuse. Will he finally make the most of what will certainly be his last chance in the NFL?

  • Receptions: 0 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0 | Rushing Yards: 0  | Rushing TD’s: 0

Phillip Dorsett II

  • Receptions: 0 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0 | Rushing Yards: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0

Demaryius Thomas

Veteran receiver looking to revive his career with Brady.

  • Receptions: 0 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0 | Rushing Yards: 0  | Rushing TD’s: 0

Jakobi Meyers

  • Receptions: 0 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0 | Rushing Yards: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0

Matthew Slater

  • Receptions: 0 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0 | Rushing Yards: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0

 

Tight Ends

Matt LaCosse

He’s no Rob Gronkowski.

  • Receptions: 0 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0 | Rushing Yards: 0  | Rushing TD’s: 0

Ryan Izzo

  • Receptions: 0 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0 | Rushing Yards: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0

*Denotes Starter

 

DEFENSE (Base 4-3)

Bill Belichick is a master of finding and exploiting weaknesses in opposing offenses. He likes to take away your most dangerous weapon and make force you to win with your 2nd, 3rd, and sometimes 4th best options on offense. The Patriots were 7th best last season giving up 20.3 points per game.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Placekicker

Stephen Gostkowski

One of the best kickers in the NFL.

  • Extra Points: 0-0 | FG: 0-0 | 0-19:  0-0 | 20-29:  0-0 | 30-39:  0-0 | 40-49:  0-0 | 50+:  0-0 | Long: 0

 

New England Injury Report (9/6/19)

  • Out: None
  • Doubtful: None
  • Questionable: TE Matt LaCosse (Ankle), S Obi Melifonwu (Ankle), WR Demaryius Thomas (Hamstring)
  • Probable: None

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OFFENSIVE & DEFENSIVE STATS

Total Offense: Pittsburgh averages 0 YPG | New England averages 0 YPG

  • Rushing: Pittsburgh averages 0 YPG | New England averages 0 YPG
  • Passing: Pittsburgh averages 0 YPG | New England averages 0 YPG
  • Scoring: Pittsburgh averages 0 PPG | New England averages 0 PPG

 

Total Defense: Pittsburgh allows 0 YPG | New England allows 0 YPG

  • Rushing: Pittsburgh allows 0 YPG | New England allows 0 YPG
  • Passing: Pittsburgh allows 0 YPG | New England allows 0 YPG
  • Scoring: Pittsburgh allows 0 PPG | New England allows 0 PPG

 

Defensive Stats

  • Pittsburgh- Sacks: 0 | Interceptions: 0 | Fumbles: 0
  • New England- Sacks: 0 | Interceptions: 0 | Fumbles: 0

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NFL STANDINGS

Standings

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Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 Schedule 

2019 PRESEASON SCHEDULE (3-1)

Fri. Aug. 9 Tampa Bay at Heinz Field- W, 30-28
Sat. Aug. 17 Kansas City at Heinz Field- W, 17-7
Sun. Aug. 25 Tennessee at Nissan Stadium- W, 18-6
Thur. Aug. 29 Carolina at Bank of American Stadium- L, 19-25

2019 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE (0-0)

Sun. Sept. 8 New England at Gillette Stadium 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Sun. Sept. 15 Seattle at Heinz Field 1 p.m. (FOX)
Sun. Sept. 22 San Francisco at Levi’s Stadium 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Mon. Sept. 30 Cincinnati at Heinz Field 8:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Sun. Oct. 6 Baltimore at Heinz Field 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sun. Oct. 13 LA Chargers at Dignity Health Sports Park 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Sun. Oct. 20 BYE WEEK
Mon. Oct. 28 Miami at Heinz Field 8:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Sun. Nov. 3 Indianapolis at Heinz Field 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sun. Nov. 10 LA Rams at Heinz Field 4:25 p.m. (FOX)
Thur. Nov. 14 Cleveland at FirstEnergy Stadium 8:20 p.m. (FOX)
Sun. Nov. 24 Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sun. Dec. 1 Cleveland at Heinz Field 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Sun. Dec. 8 Arizona at State Farm Stadium 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Sun. Dec. 15 Buffalo at Heinz Field 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sun. Dec. 22 New York Jets at MetLife Stadium 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sun. Dec. 29 Baltimore at M&T Bank Stadium 1 p.m. (CBS)

* – Times may change due to flexible scheduling

NOTE: All times are Eastern | Home games in Bold

2019 POSTSEASON SCHEDULE

Sat./Sun. Jan. 4/5 Wild Card Weekend
Sat./Sun. Jan. 11/12 Divisional Playoff Games
Sun. Jan. 19 Conference Championships
Sun. Jan. 26 Pro Bowl (Orlando, Fla.)
Sun. Feb. 2 Super Bowl LIV (Miami, Fla.)

Author Profile

Mike DrakulichYour source for Pittsburgh sports!
From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.

There's nowhere on earth that is more dedicated to its sports teams like Western Pennsylvania and the city of Pittsburgh. The passion and pride of Pittsburgh's fan base is second to no one. From the NFL, NHL, MLB, NCAA football and basketball, to W.P.I.A.L. high school sports, "The City of Champions" has it all!

As Editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich provides top notch opinions and coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers football & basketball, Robert Morris Colonials basketball, and Duquesne Dukes basketball, as well as all sports teams that represent Western Pennsylvania, including WPIAL High School Football.

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