The mystique that used to be associated with the New England Patriots is gone. Not only are opponents no longer afraid of playing the Patriots, but they’re also taking shots at them and calling Bill Belichick’s squad “a transitional group.”
“They’re [the Patriots] a transitional group like us as well,” Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said days ahead of his team’s Week 2 clash with the Patriots.
“It has been a number of years since we’ve been in the stadium against them, and as you put the tape on, you see that. Significant players in all three phases and coaches as well [are different]. But I know their core values will remain the same. I think if you’re playing a New England team, they’ll always have a high floor.”
Tomlin didn’t mean for his summary disrespectfully. In fact, the Boston Globe’s Christopher Gasper simply called Tomlin’s comments an “honest assessment” of his upcoming opponent.
How else should a coach describe a team like the Patriots? Since Tom Brady bolted for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Patriots missed the playoffs in 2020, eeked their way in at 10-7 in 2021, and got off to an inauspicious start to 2022 with a 20-7 loss on the road to the Miami Dolphins in Week 1?
It seems a lot like the situation the Steelers are set to face this season as they move into the post-Ben-Roethlisberger era. Pittsburgh has Mitchell Trubisky in as their starter, but he’s effectively a bridge quarterback until rookie Kenny Pickett is ready to be the No. 1 guy.
It’s almost as if the Steelers simultaneously have their Cam Newton and Mac Jones on the team.
How Did the Steelers Do in Week 1?
Pittsburgh won their Week 1 matchup against a division rival, unlike the Patriots. In arguably the wildest game on the Week 1 schedule, the Steelers knocked off the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 in overtime.
The game featured an injury to the Bengals’ long-snapper that likely led to a missed field goal and extra point that cost Cincinnati the game. It’ll be interesting to see if that division loss winds up costing the Bengals valuable playoff positioning later this season.
In any case, the Steelers didn’t exactly look good in gaining their first win. The offense managed just 267 total yards for the game. Trubisky completed a modest 21 of 38 passes for 198 yards and a TD. Needless to say, the Steelers vs. Patriots isn’t shaping up to be a game expected to be a shootout.
Patriots & Steelers Expected to Play in a Low-Scoring Game
According to Fox Sports, the Patriots-Steelers games has an over/under of 40.5. That is the second-lowest over/under matchup on the Week 2 schedule behind a game that features two teams playing without their starting quarterbacks, the New York Jets v.s the Cleveland Browns.
The Steelers will be without edge-rusher supreme T.J. Watt. He is nursing a pectoral injury, so the Patriots could be getting a break in that regard. The Week 2 matchup would appear to be the Patriots’ best chance to get a win in their first four contests.
Their Week 3 and 4 opponents are the Baltimore Ravens and Green Bay Packers, respectively. Considering they’ve already lost to the Dolphins and defeat at the hands of the Ravens doesn’t seem impractical, the Patriots may need to beat the Patriots to avoid an 0-3 start overall and against the AFC.