The Super Bowl LIII Champions are taking the field Sunday Night at 8:20 p.m. at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, pending any delays from pregame ceremonies. The Patriots are unveiling their sixth super bowl banner, which is their second in three years and third in five years. 6 banners ties them with their week 1 opponent: the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers are coming off of a 9-6-1 season in which they failed to make the playoffs. There were more than enough headlines unrelated to the game on the field that poisoned Head Coach Mike Tomlin’s locker room last year, if you can even call it his locker room. They lost two of their most important players in Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, and it seems the situation is still publicly ongoing on social media between Brown and current Steelers players.
Before the game, checkout these three stats to look for:
Just over a month ago the New England faithful wished Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr. a happy 42nd birthday. The San Mateo, California native and Michigan graduate looks to break his own record as the oldest QB to win a Super Bowl as they trek onto the #StairwaytoSeven. He will do it with rookie backup QB Jarrett Stidham out of Auburn, who beat out veteran Brian Hoyer for the job. Brady will not have Rob Gronkowski this season, but the bromance will continue with Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman. He will also have Demaryius Thomas who was picked up over the offseason, as well as Josh “Flash” Gordon who was reinstated from his suspension that dated back to late last season.
I stole this one from a fellow FPC writer Nathan Brown’s (@bradyisbettr) twitter account. When the Pats unveil a banner with the Steelers in attendance (2002 and 2015), Tom Brady is 54/75 with 582 yards and a 7-0 TD-INT ratio. That is good for a 125.3 QBR. The Patriots also did not make the Super Bowl both of those years so I will not be a hypocrite, and agree that week 1 certainly isn’t the most important week. Saying that, it is certainly something to keep in mind when you are in your lucky seat Sunday Night with your lucky shirt that you hopefully haven’t washed since maybe Monday, December 17, 2018, after the Steelers loss, or for others after Super Bowl LII
With the loss of Antonio Brown, I expect this number to increase this season. Ju-Ju Smith Schuster averaged 89.1 yards per game in 2018, up from 65.5 during his rookie campaign in 2017, according to pro-football-reference.com. The new-look Steelers will look to Ju-Ju as one of their leaders. He brings a positive mindset and a tremendous work ethic to the game. When Pittsburgh drafted him out of the University of Southern California, a lot of Patriots fans were not happy they had to “root against him” as a conference rival.
As Belichick crosses his t’s and dots his i’s for yet another title defense, the whole league will give the Patriots their best shot, and it will be exciting as always to cover the 6-time champs for my second year here at Full Press Coverage.
Kickoff, as noted above, is scheduled for 8:20 p.m. EST on NBC and 98.5 The Sports Hub
-Johnny Maffei is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @johnnymaffei12