Where: Gillette Stadium
When: Sunday, September 8, 2019, 8:20 pm ET
We have a clash between two of the most successful franchises in National Football League history when the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots meet on Sunday night to open their 2019 NFL Campaigns!
Pittsburgh enters their 2019 season coming off a 9-6-1 record and missed the playoffs for the first time in five seasons after losing four of their last six games of the regular season. That team had plenty of distractions and Head Coach Mike Tomlin has put those distractions in his rear-view mirror and is ready for the 2019 season.
New England finished their 2019 season with an 11-5 record and won their third Super Bowl over the past five seasons. Head Coach Bill Belichick enters his 20th season as Head Coach of the Patriots and is poised for another Super Bowl run.
Steelers Looking to Reach Playoffs
Their nine wins weren’t enough to get the Pittsburgh Steelers a spot in the playoffs, but all seems good in Steeler Land. Head Coach Mike Tomlin returns for his 13th season with a 125-66-1 lifetime record and without the need for an extra case of Pepto Bismal now that wide receiver Antonio Brown and holdout running back Le’veon Bell have taken their talents elsewhere.
According to Football Outsiders, Pittsburgh finished six in offensive DVOA while ranking eighth in passing and 12th in rushing. The Steelers finished first in the National Football League in passing attempts (698) and second with 5008 passing yards. Their 35 passing touchdowns left Pittsburgh fifth; moving the chains has never been the Steelers problem.
37-year old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returns for his 16th NFL season under center and a career year that saw the veteran gunslinger throw for 5,129 yards and 34 touchdowns. Big Ben also chucked 16 interceptions and was sacked 24 times in 2018 and the Steelers don’t have any plans on life without him.
Bell is out and James Connor returns as his replacement. Connor rushed for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns as Bell’s 2018 replacement and is pegged as the starting running back. Connor, along with backups Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell Jr will comprise the Steelers backfield in 2019.
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster led Pittsburgh with 1426 receiving yards as the number two receiving option and will be asked to replace departed wide receiver Antonio Brown as Roethlisberger’s main go-to guy. Wide receiver Ryan Switzer would be the man to replace Smith-Schuster as option two and could flourish in that role. Free-agent signee Donte Moncrief could also become a prime target for Roethlisberger and is coming off a 668 yard, three-touchdown season for the Jacksonville Jaguars last season.
According to Football Outsiders, the Steelers defense ranked 13th in the NFL and down from ninth in 2017. Turnovers hurt the defense; Pittsburgh was 29th in team turnovers lost, 28th in interceptions and 30th in percentage of drives by their opponents ending in a turnover. Cornerback Steven Nelson and linebacker Mark Barron have signed this offseason with big plays in mind and leading tackler Sean Davis returns but is currently listed as questionable for Sunday night.
Patriots Have Won Two of Last Three Super Bowls
The Patriots are the defending AFC and Super Bowl Champions. They return quarterback Tom Brady and of course Hall of Fame Head Coach Bill Belichick. Belichick has amassed a 225-79 record over his 20 seasons as the Patriots Head Coach. Tight end Rob Gronkowski decided retirement was better than winning Super Bowls, defensive coordinator Brian Flores left to become Head Coach of the Miami Dolphins, Trey Flowers and Trent Brown left via free agency and the Patriots are highly favored to win this season’s Super Bowl.
Football Outsiders ranked the Patriots fifth in offensive DVOA last season after holding the top spot in 2017. Their 436 points were good for fourth and their 6295 total yards ranked New England fifth in the National Football League. New England finished third in rushing attempts (478), fifth in rushing yards (2037) and their 18 rushing touchdowns were fourth-best in 2018.
Brady is coming off a 4355-yard passing season with 29 touchdowns on a 65.8 percent completion rate. He’s also led New England to three consecutive Super Bowl appearances and has won two of them. Rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham from Auburn beat out Brian Hoyer and will be Brady’s backup this season.
The Patriots backfield remains intact from 2018 and is led by running back Sony Michael and his 931 rushing yards with six touchdowns. Also returning to contribute is running back James White who will likely catch passes out of the backfield and running back Rex Burkhead also returns and will certainly see the field this season.
Brady has good ones to throw to as wider receiver Julian Edelman and his team-leading 850 receiving yards with six touchdowns. Oft suspended and troubled wide receiver Josh Gordon could have a big season providing he stays out of trouble and wide receiver Philip Dorset could also be a big-play guy for Brady.
The Patriots have a new batch of tight ends with rookie Matt LaCosse likely starting for New England. LaCosse is listed as questionable for Sunday night.
New England is returning practically every key defensive player from the team that held the Los Angeles Rams to only three points in last season’s Super Bowl. The defense changes from week to week and the results rarely change. New England finished 2018 as the 16th rated defensive DVOA according to Football Outsiders and finished first with average time allowed on the field per drive (2:28). I’ll stop right there.
Update (9/7/19): Yes, troubled but talented wide receiver Antonio Brown has signed with the Patriots, though he will not play on Sunday.
- Patriots are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games on FieldTurf.
- Patriots are 39-16-2 ATS in their last 57 home games.
- Patriots are 40-17 ATS in their last 57 games overall.
- Steelers are 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 vs. AFC.
- Steelers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games in September.