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Pittsburgh Steelers vs New York Giants - NFL Week 1
Monday Night Football
September 14, 2020
East Rutherford, New Jersey
Met Life Stadium
About the Steelers
This season will be all about trying to get back to the postseason. The Steelers have had some unfortunate luck the last couple of seasons. First came the departure of All-Pro WR Antonio Brown demanding a trade and then came the injuries to key players such as QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB James Conner, Juju Smith-Schuster, and LB Ryan Shazier which resulted in his retirement. Roethlisberger returns after missing most of last season with an elbow injury and gives the Steelers a sense of stability at the position. Conner returns after an injury-plagued season preparing to play in his contract year as he is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season is over. The players also have promising young RB’s Bennie Snell Jr. and rookie Anthony McFarland Jr. providing the Steelers with youth and good depth. Pro Football Focus ranks the Steelers offensive line at #9 overall and is anchored by LT Alejandro Villanueva who excels in pass protection. LG Ramon Foster retired at the end of last season prompting the Steelers to sign free agent Stephen Wisniewski. C Maurkice Pouncey is arguably the best at his position. Smith-Schuster also has a lot to prove this season. Can he develop into a legit #1 WR? He truly hasn’t had an opportunity to prove if he can fulfill the role due to being injured and not being able to give a full body of work over the course of an entire season. A lot of critics give Antonio Brown credit for Smith-Schuster’s early success by Brown always being double-teamed and drawing the opponent’s best cover corner. Smith-Schuster will get his first chance to prove his worth against Giants CB James Bradberry.
About the Giants
New head coach Joe Judge begins his tenure in New York as he will try and make the Giants a contending team in the NFC East. Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett was hired as offensive coordinator and it will be interesting to see how he meshes with QB Daniel Jones in his first full season as the starting QB. RB Saquon Barkley has been spectacular in his first 2 seasons and is primed to put up astronomical statistics if he can remain healthy. Barkley is seeking his 3rd consecutive 1,000-yard season and is a breakaway threat whenever he touches the football. Speaking of health, WR Sterling Shepard missed 6 games last season due to injury and it’s imperative he remains healthy as Jones’s top target. LB Blake Martinez and CB James Bradberry are the newest additions to the defense via free agency. Martinez led the NFL in solo tackles with 110 as a member of the Green Bay Packers.
Players to Watch
Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers): Does the old trusty veteran still have what it takes to make a playoff run? As long as he remains healthy, the Steelers have a puncher’s chance.
Leonard Williams (Giants): Williams will have to try and slow the Steelers rushing attack while also trying to put pressure on Roethlisberger.
Chase Claypool (Steelers): His size makes him a nightmare matchup for smaller defenders and gives the Steelers another target in the red zone. Claypool could possibly become the Steelers top WR if Smith-Schuster leaves via free agency.
Andrew Thomas (Giants): The Giants plan to throw Thomas right into the action as the starting LT. Thomas needs to improve his technique in pass protection but that will improve with time and experience.
Big Ben’s return will be a successful one as he torches the Giants defense. Barkley will give the Steelers defense all they can handle but it won’t be enough to overcome the Steelers offensive onslaught.
Final Score: Steelers 49 / Giants 24