The New England Patriots will open their Super Bowl title defense against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night at Gillette Stadium. Both teams have experienced some significant changes in the offseason, with the retirement of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and the departure of running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown. Bell recently joined the New York Jets while Brown was traded to the Oakland Raiders.

Despite the significant changes in their roster, Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis believes that the Patriots will emerge victorious over the Steelers in Week 1. During the season premiere of Showtime’s “Inside the NFL”, Lewis stressed that he will be taking the Patriots over the Steelers due to the former’s ability to step up on defense, which will now be spearheaded by head coach Bill Belichick.

“I think the biggest adjustments, this offseason, was what Bill Belichick done from the defensive side of the ball. I just think that’s gonna be the biggest key,” said Lewis, per NESN.com. According to Lewis, many are talking about the Patriots offense and the leadership of veteran quarterback Tom Brady, but in the end, he believes that New England will prevail with the help of their defense. “I’m taking the Patriots,” said Lewis. Earlier, it was reported that the Patriots have the oldest 53-man lineup in terms of average age.

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Big Ben says ‘it’s not fun’ facing Brady in Week 1

According to a report by NBC Sports, Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger admitted on Wednesday that “it’s not fun” having the Patriots as their Week 1 opponent. "They're the best for a reason -- coaches and players. It's not like (only) we've had a problem with them. The league's had a problem with them,” said Roethlisberger, who is 0-5 in his career against Brady and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

He posted his only win in Foxborough in 2008 with Brady out with an injury. Before the game, the Patriots will unveil their Super Bowl championship banner, which Roethlisberger said will serve as motivation for the Steelers to get back to the Super Bowl. According to Roethlisberger, the Steelers will try to make a statement to the league with a victory over the Patriots in Week 1. “They're the world champs, and we're just trying to get to where they've been, so it'll be exciting for all of us,” he said. Roethlisberger has a point because the Patriots are heavily favored to win their seventh Super Bowl ring.

Belichick excited for 2019 season

During a talk with the media on Wednesday, Belichick said he’s excited for the start of the 2019 season. “I like football. I like football season and all the things that go with it,” said Belichick, who is 11-4 overall and 5-1 at home against the Steelers. According to Belichick, the Patriots have prepared intensely for the Steelers because they “are a good football team” and “I’ve got a lot of respect for the organization.” Belichick said the Steelers compete hard and strong in all three phases of the game so the Patriots have to play 60 minutes of outstanding football.

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