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Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. Eastern
Line: Patriots by 6.5
After seven long months of waiting, the NFL is back. As the NFL season kicks off, the New England Patriots quarterback, will start against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Thursday night.
After an offseason dominated by endless DeflateGate headlines and courtroom drama, the Patriots are ready to get back to the version of football played on the gridiron, where they’ll attempt to be the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champs in more than a decade.
On the bright side, future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady will be on the field, and wide receiver Julian Edelman most likely will as well. Unfortunately, the Patriots do have some key injuries. Brandon LaFell is on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, and it will be up to Aaron Dobson to finally step up. Danny Amendola will also be playing.
Thankfully for the Patriots, Robert Gronkowski will be playing. Gronkowski is viewed as the best tight end in the league, and rightfully so.
The Patriots defense will look different from what we saw last season,. Long time defensive captain Vince Wilfork is now with the Houston Texans.
The Patriots will have home field advantage, and they will have to take advantage of small ball offense. Brady is more than capable of connecting on deep throws, but without LaFell and a questionable new defense, controlling the time of possession is a must. Belichick surprised many by releasing Jonas Gray, who was actually the Patriots leading rusher last season. LeGarrette Blount is also suspended, so the Patriots ground game is a big question mark.
The defending AFC North champions will try and go into Foxborough on Thursday night and get a win. These Steelers aren’t the same as the ones we’re used to seeing in the 1970s and 2000s with elite defensive units. Last season the Steelers ranked 18th in points allowed and 18th in yards surrendered. We must also keep in mind the great Dick LeBeau is now with the Tennessee Titans.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED BY:. latinpost.com