Line: Patriots -7

The 2015 NFL season kicks off on Thursday Night with the defending

SuperBowl Champion New England Patriots vs. the 6 time SuperBowl champion

New England Patriots. Both franchises have 2 of the longest tenured coaches in the

NFL in Bill Belichick and Mike Tomlin. They are also two coaches who are known as

defense first yet may be forced to rely more on their offense this season that in

previous years.

The Patriots lose 15 players from last year’s championship roster. The

defense suffered big hits in the losses of cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon

Browner, both of whom were starters and they allowed the team to send more

rushers at opposing quarterbacks with their shutdown capabilities. Mix in the losses

of fellow corners Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington and the team will be featuring

and all new defensive backfield. Superbowl hero Malcolm Butler will be called upon

to take the place of Revis and those are some tough shoes to fill. Longtime defensive

tackle Vince Wilfork will be missed in the middle of he teams run and pass defense.

On offense there is little change except the loss of running back Shane Vereen who

will be missed, especially for his pass catching ability out of the backfield. He led the

team in catches during the Superbowl including 2 big grabs on the winning drive.

Replacing Vereen as a pass catcher is a job that is yet to be replaced in the

preseason. Most of he running game ill come from veteran Legarette Blount who has

always had success in a Patriots uniform.

The Steelers have never been a team with a lot of turnover and this roster is

no exception. Veteran safety Troy Polamolu retired after a distinguished career in

which he put himself amongst the best to ever play the safety position. On offense

the team added running back Deangelo Williams who will likely step into a starting

role on Thursday night as starter Le’veon Bell who will be serving the first game of

his two game suspension. The team used 5 of its 7 draft picks on defensive players,

as it will look to re-tool what was once the most dominant defensive team in the

league. Long time legendary defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has left the

organization and has been replaced by Keith Butler. The offense will suffer in the

seasons early weeks with the suspensions of Bell and wide receiver Martavious

Bryant who will be serving a 4 game suspension. The wide receiver core is

inexperienced to begin with and the team will have to rely on the veteran savvy of

quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Opening night is always tough having to start the season a few days before

other teams. The Patriots are coming off a fantastic season but have been known to

start slow. The Steelers are a big question mark, however that is often when hey are

at their most dangerous. There are a lot of question marks to be sorted out on

Thursday night.

Pick: Patriots -7

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