Every fighter has an arch rival. It is the formula that powers show business and most importantly, professional sports. Whether it be live attendance, television or social media, the world is tuned in when these two heavyweights go head to head. Those who follow the NBA are familiar with the concept after seeing the Cleveland Cavaliers square up with the Golden State Warriors for the third straight NBA finals. While the NFL equivalent for the last decade or so has been Peyton Manning vs Tom Brady, a new suitor may have revealed themselves this last season now that Manning has walked off into retirement.
Of course, as you may have guessed by the title, I am talking about the Pittsburgh Steelers vs the New England Patriots.
While the drubbing the Patriots put on the Steelers in last season’s AFC Championship game may be the complete opposite of must see television between two competitors, the seeds were planted for a re-ignited rivalry. Look no further than all the Steelers related news coming out of this offseason.
Obsession – That is one word that can wrap up the Steelers’ internal discussions about the Patriots this offseason. Like a crazy ex, the Steelers are making it obvious that they are doing everything in their power to better themselves after last year’s horrific date with the Patriots in the chance that they meet again.
Safety Mike Mitchell spoke earlier this offseason of the Steelers’ need to match the Patriots discipline in order to come out victorious. Though Mitchell was not the only one to speak out, as defensive team mates Ryan Shazier offered his own thoughts on the “Patriots Problem.” Cornerback Artie Burns spoke for many when he spoke of the team’s wishes to play more man coverage after being dissected by Tom Brady yet again. All this points to the fact that the Steelers are preparing and expecting another playoff rematch with the Patriots for the rights to play in Super Bowl LII and beyond.
The Steelers are hardly the only members in football expecting a rematch as a large part of the NFL also agrees on the black and gold franchise being the biggest threat to the Patriots reign of dominance.
NFL.com writer Conor Orr lists the Steelers as his best bet to beat the Patriots next season due to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his supporting cast. Gil Brandt, another NFL.com writer, listed the Steelers as the second most talented team in the NFL, only falling short of the Patriots for the top selection.
Orr and Brandt bring up a strong point as Roethlisberger and his supporting cast are a good bet for why the Steelers and Patriots may be the AFC’s edition of Cavaliers and Warriors. Much like the Warriors and Steph Curry discovered last year, there is always room for more reinforcements when it comes to dethroning the likes of generational talents such as LeBron James and Brady.
While the Warriors turned to free agency to recruit the likes of Kevin Durant, the Steelers found their own artillery for a much lower cost with the reinstatement of wide receiver Martavis Bryant.
Equipped with a reloaded receiving core and rising defense, the Steelers are all hands-on deck in their attempt to overthrow the Patriots reign of terror. Though, time is not on either team’s side. Both Roethlisberger, 35 and Brady, soon to be 40, likely only have a handful of years remaining before riding off into the sunset. With both team’s conductors in the twilight of their careers and rising competitors such as the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans building formidable armies, the current Steelers vs Patriots saga may be the AFC’s last rodeo of a decade long power struggle between Manning, Roethlisberger and Brady.
With a team built to win now, the Steelers are being counted on to continue throwing heavyweight blows against the calculative Patriots in the AFC’s current biggest rivalry. And with an offense consisting of Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Bryant, the Steelers have assembled their own edition of a Warriors super team. Now they just have to go out and slay the king.