Five Key Match-ups to Watch: New England Patriots vs Pittsburgh Steelers

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Aug 28, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) and quarterback Tom Brady (12) sit on the bench during the second half against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Panthers 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots had one of the most trying offseasons in recent history. While the organization and star quarterback were dogged by an overzealous league investigation, the team lost defensive captain Vince Wilfork and their top four cornerbacks. As the league imposed draconian punishments for unproven allegations, the team lost offensive captain Dan Connolly to retirement and receiving running back Shane Vereen in free agency.

With the Federal court nullifying quarterback Tom Brady’s four game suspension and ESPN and Sports Illustrated taking their best shots at the organization by coincidentally dredging-up allegations from eight years ago on the same day filled with unsubstantiated and anonymous sources , the Patriots have taken every body blow from the NFL and the 31 other owners this offseason to get to today: the first game of the 2015 NFL season.

Today, at long last, the offseason of the ridiculous witch-hunt has ended and the game on the field takes center stage. At long last, the New England Patriots get the chance to step between the white sidelines and defend their World Championship and unveil their championship banner in a packed Gillette Stadium on prime-time television.

Since 2001 in the AFC it has been either the Patriots or the Steelers representing the conference in the Super Bowl in 8 of those 14 years. These two storied franchises both feature future Hall of Fame quarterbacks and explosive weapons on offense. Roethlisberger has a career .671 winning percentage with 106 career wins and Brady has 160 wins and a .773 winning percentage (per  

Often the game does not come down to the game plan created and practiced during the week or the Xs and Os put together by the coaches. When the game starts it comes down to the players on the field and their individual match-ups. Whoever wins those match-ups more often than the other player lined up across from them plays a key role in helping their team win the game.

To get ready for the New England Patriots’ match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight, the two here are five key match-ups to watch:

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