The Washington Redskins open the 2016 season against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 12th, hosting the game at FedEx Field on Monday Night Football. The Steelers are coming off of a 10-6 season that earned them 2nd place in the AFC North, and a wild card playoff spot. They defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, but lost the following week to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will be no pushover this season and they are the first test to come Washington's way at FedEx Field in week one. The Redskins also made the playoffs last season, but won the NFC East to get there. The home playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers is still fresh on the team’s(and fan's) minds, and they will be looking to improve on the previous season. The Redskins have added a few pieces to try to take the next step this year.
In a surprising move, the Carolina Panthers decided to not keep star cornerback Josh Norman in the mix, letting him walk out on the team that he helped storm into Super Bowl 50. The Redskins were quick to pounce on the 28-year old, signing him to a five-year, $75 million dollar deal and shoring up their secondary in the process heading into the new season. The NFL week 1 betting line at topbet.eu favors the Steelers by 3 point, but that could be easy money given recent offseason developments.
On March 14th, Pittsburgh's potential standout wide receiver Martavis Bryant was suspended one year by the NFL for violating the league's drug policy. On top of that, the Steelers offense will also get Le'Veon Bell back after 10 months on the shelf. The speedy running back tore his MCL in November last season, so his production early in the season could be affected.
Pittsburgh's offense could struggle early in the season, but they will rely heavily on the Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown connection. The Steelers will have to rely on WRs Markus Wheaton and Sammie Coates to pick up some of Bryant's targets.
For the Redskins, the majority of their offense is returning with Matt Jones now becoming the top guy at running back following Alfred Morris' departure to Dallas Cowboys. They also drafted a first round WR(Josh Doctson) who will work his way into the game alongside mentors DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. While at tight end, Jordan Reed will return to the field after his breakout season that earned him a huge contract extension. He put up career numbers in 2015 and is looking like a great investment week in week out.
On defense, both teams looked to the draft to improve this offseason. The Steelers spent their first 3 draft picks on defense this year, with 5 of their 7 picks going to that side of the ball. The Redskins spent two of their first 3 picks, and 4 of their 7 picks on defense.
Pittsburgh didn’t sign any significant free agents on defense this year, and the Redskins were quiet also until Josh Norman became available. Washington did add several players to add to the team’s depth, and compete for playing time like S David Bruton, Jr., DE Kendall Reyes, and ILB Terrence Garvin. They also get OLB Junior Galette this season, who was lost during training camp last year to an Achilles injury.
Only 87 days until the Redskins opening game...