The Pittsburgh Steelers will face a trial by fire in Week 1 this year as they take on the defending Super Bowl champions.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots are two of the most dominant teams in NFL history. Both franchises have six Super Bowl victories and have been to the big game multiple times in the last two decades. However, the two have been living in different circumstances for the last several seasons. The Patriots have thrived while the Steelers have continually failed to live up to their potential. Pittsburgh even failed to make the playoffs last year.
After shedding some dramatic baggage over the offseason, Pittsburgh has the potential to be a new team this year. It’s time for the team to move on from previous mishaps and shortcomings. With their Super Bowl window closing, it’s time for the Steelers to win big games.
The Steelers have a lot to prove this season while the Patriots will begin yet another title defense. In Week 15 last season, Pittsburgh defeated New England 17-10. It’s a good thing that the matchup is earlier this year because the Patriots can be slow out of the gate sometimes. You don’t want to face their team while they’re on a winning streak.
If the Steelers want to beat Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in consecutive meetings, then these five players will need to have major impacts on the game.
5. Donte Moncrief, WR
The biggest news for the Steelers this offseason was the Antonio Brown fiasco that ultimately led to the star receiver being traded to the Oakland Raiders. With Brown no longer drawing double or triple coverages, JuJu Smith-Schuster will become the prime target for defensive coordinators and their secondaries. That leaves Moncrief in an opportune situation to cause havoc for defenses.
Last season, Moncrief averaged 41.8 receiving yards per game with the Jacksonville Jaguars. If Smith-Schuster is drawing double teams, Moncrief needs to have at least 70 or 80 receiving yards. If he’s a true No. 2 receiver, he’ll prove it against the Patriots.