NFL Week 7 Preview: Patriots vs. Steelers
I'm going to be completely honest with y'all up front. I've been looking forward to this game since the schedule first came out, but now it's a game that I don't even think I'm going to be able to watch. My Alma mater, Howard University, has its Homecoming this weekend, which means 3 straight days of being black out drunk. I've already made sure the game is going to be on in the venue I'm going to be at, and I'm taping it as well. But as Brady is throwing for 400+ yards and 3 TDs, I'm going to be knee deep in the Henny.
I remember at the beginning of the season, I didn't see much in the Patriots' way as they try to advance to another Super Bowl besides a healthy and unsuspended Steelers team. I still believe that to be the case, although the Broncos are right there too. But Bathroom Ben never fails to get injured, it happens every year. There are three things you can count on in the AFC North every year: The Bengals will lose in the first round of the playoffs, the Browns will go through another QB (or 3), and Big Ben will get injured. Still, the Steelers are in first place in the division at 4-2, and luckily have a bye week after the Pats to get Ben back.
This is in no way a guaranteed victory now that Big Ben is out, especially with the best RB and the best WR in the league still on the field. Not only that, but the Patriots are known to play well against good QBs and then make mediocre QBs look like John Elway. So I fully expect Landry Jones to perform better than people think he will. At the end of the day, it's not hard to hand the ball off to Le'Veon Bell, or throw it anywhere within a 10 ft. radius of Antonio Brown and watch him go get it. So the Pats need not take the Steelers lightly, and I'm sure that's something Belichick is driving home. You know what I wish? I wish that whoever scouts WRs for the Steelers would come work for the Patriots, because these guys rarely ever miss in the draft. For as many times as we've missed at the position, they've hit just as much. Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Wallace, Santonio Holmes, Martavius Bryant, Sammie Coates, Markus Wheaton, the list goes on and on. Our best WR drafted in recent years? Julian Edelman, a college QB who converted to WR.
This Steelers defense couldn't stop a bloody nose last week against the lowly Dolphins, so I expect Tom to do what he always does against Pittsburgh: put up gaudy numbers. Dion Lewis is eligible to begin practicing this week, but he hasn't, so James White will have another big game catching passes out of the backfield. If you're a 3rd down back in the Pats' system, you're going to get a lot of touches. In the season opener last year, we played the Steelers in New England and Gronk scored 3 TD's. I'm going to go ahead and guess that if they can't stop one Gronk, they can't stop two, so it's going to be business as usual for our TEs. What I want to know is when is Julian Edelman going to have his first breakout game? The Pats' #1 WR and Brady's bro hasn’t even scored a TD or gone over 100 receiving yards yet. Chris Hogan developed a nice rapport with Garoppolo, and has already passed the tough test of earning Brady's trust. Even Amendola, who barely gets on the field anymore with Hogan's emergence, was the beneficiary of 2 touchdowns from Jimmy G. So I'd like to see Jules put some numbers up this game, and I don't have any doubt he will.
We're going to come away with a W in this one; it's just a matter of by how much. Mike Tomlin will do what he always does and complain about his headset not working, all the while stepping in the field of play to trip somebody on a kick return. But if y'all can make it to DC, come up Georgia Ave and join the party. HU!