We have Pittsburgh Steelers football this week! Mike Tomlin's team is getting set to host the San Francisco 49ers at Acrisure Stadium in Week 1. Following Pittsburgh's dominant preseason showing, this team will be battle-tested early as they go up against the NFL's top-ranked scoring defense from a season ago.
There are plenty of things to watch for in this contest, and fans are no doubt hoping that the offense comes out swinging. Perhaps the most intriguing storylines are the matchups between players who play the same positions and the comparisons they share. Here are three headlines that will have every fan pumped for the Steelers vs. the 49ers in Week 1.
Kenny Pickett vs. Brock Purdy
There was a narrative by the national media last year that, despite being Mr. Irrelivant, Brock Purdy out-performed Steelers first-round pick, Kenny Pickett. From a statistical standpoint, this is true. Despite starting just 5 games (and playing in 9), Purdy had an impressive 13 touchdowns to go with just 4 interceptions, via Pro Football Reference. This equated to a passer rating of 107.3 to go with a perfect 5-0 record as a starter.
Obviously, the circumstances were very different with these two rookie quarterbacks from a season ago, and Steelers fans know that. Now Pickett will try to put this debate to rest with a dominant showing in Week 1. Statistically, Pickett was near the bottom of the league last year in yards per attempt, touchdown-to-interception ratio, and passer rating. But that was last year.
This summer, Pickett has been overflowing with confidence and is essentially coming off the perfect preseason. Will his dominant performance carry over against a stout defense in Week 1? Purdy is aided by Kyle Shanahan's innovative play design, but Pickett could show that he's simply the more talented player when the Steelers face the 49ers for the season-opener.