The 2015 NFL season begins with the defending Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots, hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team with Super Bowl aspirations of their own.
The Steelers, at least offensively, look like a team capable of going the long run, but defense has always been part of that equation, and might be the reason teams don’t take them too seriously. The offensive line has improved, Ben Roethlisberger is playing the best football of his career with plenty of options deep and short, while Le’Veon Bell will probably be hungry to scorch the field after missing the playoffs last season, possibly the main reason why the Steelers lost to the Ravens in the Wild Card round.
But can their defense handle the Patriots and an angry Tom Brady? There are those who expect the Patriots to go out and torch the league like they did in 2007, although we all know how that ended; a perfect regular season followed by heartbreak in the Super Bowl against the team’s kryptonite: Eli Manning & the New York Giants. It’s been four years since the last time the Patriots lost in the Super Bowl to the Giants, so maybe we’re up for another thrilling ride that ends in blue?
Brady didn’t look good in the preseason, but he mostly played without his top targets: Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell. With them? Maybe it’s going to be one of the seasons in which we don’t hear right from the start how much Brady has regressed. Sure, he’s not the quarterback he was three years ago and more, but with the right protection (he’s a quarterback that must have a very good offensive line, while others can make do with less) and his receivers being healthy, there’s no reason he’s not going to keep on being very successful.
Beyond everything else, it’s good to have football again. Real football, that means something. No more talk about X-Gate and Roger Goodell. The offseason is over, and it’s time to see whether the Patriots continue to set the standard of excellence in the NFL, or might be slowly making the way for someone else, with the Steelers hoping it’s their turn.