Every season every team starts 0-0. Every team controls their own destiny. For the Steelers, their season and the potential in which they bring to it all starts on week one in Cleveland against the Browns. Who are the five players who control the team’s destiny in this game more than anyone else?
The Steelers quarterback could ultimately be the top deciding factor in every week. However, Roethlisberger usually brings it to another level for the Browns. He only has two losses in his career against the Browns and one loss in Cleveland. Roethlisberger in the lineup usually means a Steelers win, and Sunday could be no different.
Aside from Roethlisberger, all eyes should be on Le’Veon Bell lining up beside Roethlisberger. Bell is coming back from a hold out that kept him away from the team facilities all offseason. Still, he mentioned that he intends to touch the ball 30 times in Week One. Can the Steelers get him the ball that much? How does he produce with these touches? Bell is obviously a key cog in this game and is an impact player to watch.
Last season the Steelers lost Cameron Heyward for the season with a pectoral injury. The team still made the AFC Championship without their best defender. Now, he comes back and in week one gets one of his tougher tests of the season. Kevin Zeitler, J.C. Tretter, and Joel Bitonio present one of the best interior combinations in the league. Heyward will have his hands full. It will be a great test and his performance will go a long way in telling how well the defense looked.
Along with Heyward, Dupree missed the majority of the season with an injury. However, he was able to finish the season healthy and was playing in the AFC Championship. Still, he now enters his third year, a year that is typically a breakout type of season. He has to yet to find chances due to varying circumstances, but this could be the year for Dupree. Of all of the offensive lineman, he will have the easiest matchup at right tackle and he has a chance to get his season off to a huge start.
Bryant is coming back from his full-year suspension. On top of that, he had to miss a decent amount of training camp due to rule complications. Bryant will be in a favorable matchup and it will be a good time for him and his quarterback to get on the same page for what could be a huge year. Watch for Bryant on screens, reverses and ultimately a second half deep ball that could try to get him involved in a big way.