Pats-Steelers should be more entertaining Sunday night
The rivalry should be so much better than it has been. The Patriots have trouble winning at Heinz Field but can pull those games out when necessary; the Steelers simply don’t win at Gillette Stadium. For lack of a better term, thhey are not the brightest team on the planet.
“We’ve had a great rivalry against those guys and played a lot of meaningful games,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. “We’ve played at their stadium quite a big the last few years so it’s good to get them here.”
We’d have rather seen the Kansas City Chiefs come to Foxborough on Sunday night for an AFC title game rematch, but CBS likely protected that one, which will take place on Dec. 8.
So we’ll have Ben Roethlisberger, with all the Antonio Brown drama sent out of town, throwing the ball to Patriot defenders, no doubt. He always does at Gillette, doesn’t he?
“We’ve got a great home crowd that puts a lot of pressure on their offensive side of the ball,” Brady said, “to make their communication really solid.”
As Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of having to face the defending Super Bowl champions for an opener, “We’re speculationg on a lot of things in Week 1 but such is the case for everyone in the league. From that standpoint, it’s fair.”
One reason the NFL probably picked the Steelers is that in the 100th year celebration, they have the only two franchises with six Super Bowl championships squaring off. Take that, Bears-Packers, since you ruined our Thursday night opener that should have been in Foxborough.
In any event, here’s a look at seven games for this week, no spread involved. Besides the Patriots, we usually try for two games from each conference and two inter-conference games.
So feel free to play along as we begin the Pick Seven Season:
PATRIOTS 27, STEELERS 17
The Steelers hardly ever win in Foxborough. In fact, they are 0-5 against Tom Brady at Gillette; he’s thrown 18 TD passes and the Patriots have averaged 36.6 points in those five wins at home.
In this sport, you always go with trends. Of course we remember the last time the Patriots hosted the Steelers in a season opener, the famous sideline communications snafu when the Patriots radio game broadcast was in Tomlin’s headset. No chance, Steelers, but at least you did one thing right in the off-season -you got rid of Antonio Brown.
JETS 24, BILLS 21
Really, this could go either way. But the Jets debut their new look under new coach Adam Gase and star running back Le’Veon Bell. And, of course, QB Sam Darnold isn’t a rookie anymore. Old friend Brian Daboll, the Bills offensive coordinator, should try to test the Jets porous secondary with Josh Allen’s strong arm. But just not enough.
RAVENS 23, DOLPHINS 7
Fitzmagic? Not this time for the tanking Brian Flores-coached Fish. Flores’ defensive acumen should keep Miami in a few games this season, but Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, still an injury waiting to happen, is tough to open up against.
RAMS 17, PANTHERS 14
What were the Rams thinking giving QB Jared Goff that big guaranteed deal? He looked like a deer in the headlights not only in last year’s Super Bowl, but all week leading up to it. But we’re going with the Rams here because the last time we saw Panthers QB Cam Newton, he was limping out of Gillette in a walking boot. But, interestingly enough, he’s not on Carolina’s injury report. Still, who knows.
COWBOYS 30, GIANTS 13
Another New York opener in Dallas, another Giant loss, most likely. Ezekiel Elliott likely will play and give the weak New York defense fits. Giants have had a couple injuries on their offensive line and Eli Manning may be once again under duress.
SEAHAWKS 31, BENGALS 10
Seattle certainly looks good in the NFC now that they have Jadeveon Clowney to shore up what had been surprisingly a struggling defensive line. Bengals look like a bad team, No chance in Seattle.
SAINTS 28, TEXANS 24
Bill O’Brien, in his new role as defacto GM along with coach, has done a lot to try to improve the Texans’ weaknesses. But they’ll dearly miss Clowney, and the Saints with a Drew Brees offense is not a good team to have to get used to his permanent absence against.
LAST YEAR: 82-46-2
(75-42-2 regular season).
Tom King may be reached at 594-1251 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow King on Twitter (@Telegraph_TomK).