Pittsburgh Steelers: Watch the defense first

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 26: Ryan Shazier
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 26: Ryan Shazier /

In Week 1, the Pittsburgh Steelers should have an easy matchup against the Cleveland Browns.

Starting 1-0 is going to be a breeze for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns may have improved this offseason, but their No. 3 receiver is Sammie Coates, and their top cornerback now plays in Pittsburgh.

Yes, there are plenty of things to watch for as their two AFC North rivals square off, but for the most part, this is a game like any other Steelers vs. Browns game – an easy win.

While most fans will be excited to watch Le’Veon Bell take the field for the first time, and this high flying receiving core get their first full-time action with Ben Roethlisberger, the most important thing to watch is the defense.

How the Steelers win in Week 1 won’t be important moving forward. This first matchup isn’t going to carry them to the Super Bowl, and if they put up 30 points, it won’t mean much heading into Week 2.

More from Steelers News

How their defense performs is important. The Browns actually have some quality pieces on their offense. DeShone Kizer is going to be a great rookie quarterback, their receivers really aren’t too terrible, and Isiah Crowell is one of the most sound running backs in the league year after year.

Which is all perfect as a Week 1 matchup for the Steelers defense.

This defensive unit has come a long way from last season. Adding T.J. Watt and Joe Haden makes this team 10-times better than it was in 2016. Now, they just need to make sure everything clicks, and there’s no better time than a Week 1 matchup against Cleveland.

For starters, this secondary will actually get a test in Week 1. Kenny Britt, Corey Coleman, and Sammie Coates aren’t stars, but they are talented enough to put some pressure on Artie Burns, Joe Haden, Sean Davis and Mike Mitchell. How this secondary response will be a huge indicator of where this season is headed in defending the pass.

The Browns’ offensive line is actually decent this season. Joe Thomas vs. T.J. Watt will be the matchup to watch for, but how players like Bud Dupree (if he plays) and Vince Williams start their season will be even more important.

As long as this linebacker core clicks, this defense is one of the best in the league. But, until they take the field together for an entire game, there’s no knowing how these four, and James Harrison, are going to play as a unit.

The Steelers’ Super Bowl odds have a lot to do with the performance of this defense. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots struggled to throw the ball in Week 1, but that’ll change. The Kansas City Chiefs showed their offense is one of the best, which means Pittsburgh needs to now prepare for even more threats in the AFC.

Next: The Steelers are undervalued in the world of gambling

Week 1 is significant for this defense. They need to prepare for top tier talent this season.

Cleveland may only be a walk through game, but for this defensive unit, this goes a long way in Pittsburgh’s season.