With every new season, comes new opportunities for all 32 NFL teams.
This upcoming NFL season is shaping to be a season unlike what we have experienced. Why? Well, the year 2020 has become a year mankind has never experienced, as the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our livelihood.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, what remains the same is their drive for their seventh Superbowl title, one that eluded them since their last one in 2008. The road to Tampa Bay in February, begins with a victory in week one over the New York Giants. Despite posting a losing season in 2019, the Giants will be no easy task as they possess a wealth of talent.
From their roster, three of them posses the type of skillset to determine the outcome of the game in their favor. If the Steelers do not prioritize in neutralizing these players, it could result in a long and disappointing night.
1. Running back Saquon Barkley -
In the last few seasons, we have seen a fair share of explosive running backs, yet few have possessed the type of speed and explosiveness as Saquon Barkley. In just two seasons, Barkley has accumulated 2310 rushing yards, while averaging 4.8 yards per carry. Considering the offensive line he has had to play with, and how opposing defenses have shaped their entire game plan on stopping him, these types of numbers are remarkable to say the least. For the Steelers defense, stopping the run will never be more essential than it will be in this game. If there are any vulnerabilities within their run defense, Barkley is more than capable of exploiting them in a big way.
2. Tight End Evan Engram -
Engram is as gifted a tight end as any in the NFL. Few players at his position, possess his overall level of athleticism and route-running abilities. Unfortunately, was has kept Engram from reaching his true potential have been injuries. Last season, Engram posted 100+ receiving yards in two of his first three games, and was well on pace for an All-Pro season till he was slowed a foot injury that eventually landed him on injury reserve. Engram is a proficient route runner, capable of running crossing routes inside and deep routes on the outside. The Steelers should expect quarterback Daniel Jones to target him early and often in their contest.
3. Defensive Tackle Dexter Lawrence -
At 6-foot-4 and weighing over 330 pounds, Lawrence one of the largest interior linemen in the NFL. Even with his size, what makes Lawrence a unique specimen, is his mobility and natural strength. During his time with Clemson, Lawrence played both nose and defensive tackle, and built a strong reputation of giving running backs virtually nothing inside. To add, Lawrence is more than capable of getting penetration in the backfield. Last season, he registered 15 quarterback pressures in addition to his 2.5 sacks. If Steelers offensive line wants to have success against the Giants' defensive front, it begins with neutralizing Lawrence.