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Position battles will be the focus as the Pittsburgh Steelers tangle with the Carolina Panthers in their final preseason matchup. As the starters watch from the sidelines, players on the roster bubble will fight for a spot on a National Football League roster.
The most interesting roster questions for Pittsburgh are at wide receiver and in their secondary. Though no one on the roster will be able to replace future Hall of Famer Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh has found surprising depth at receiver. Eli Rogers and Ryan Switzer, both dependable pass catchers, are both on the bubble along with Marcus Tucker. Though the most eye-popping name in the Steelers receiving corps is JuJu Smith-Schuster, reliable options like Diontae Johnson, Donte Moncrief, and James Washington have combined created a solid unit in Brown’s absence.
A deeper secondary than usual has resulted in a number of players landing on the roster bubble in Pittsburgh, which has been a nice change of pace for a unit that struggled until recently. Safeties Marcus Allen and Jordan Dangerfield, along with cornerback Brian Allen, will try to join a solid unit led by the still impressive Joe Haden.
An interesting battle has cropped up in Carolina in the quarterback room. Cam Newton is in no danger of being usurped as the top man in Carolina, but the physical quarterback is known to miss time, and the backup quarterback situation is still a question mark. Rookie Will Grier has been fighting with Kyle Allen and Tyler Henicke for the backup job. If the past is any indication, whoever is named the second-stringer will see playing time in the regular season.
If running back Christian McCaffrey were to miss any significant time this season, Cameron Artis-Payne wouldn’t likely shoulder the load all by himself. A trio of interesting backs, Reggie Bonnafon, Elijah Holyfield, and Jordan Scarlett, are fighting to back up the backup, and make the case that they could be a productive member of a running back committee. It’s anyone’s guess if and how many of the trio will make the 53-man roster, so all three of them could see time on Thursday.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Carolina Panthers
- When: Thursday, Aug. 29 at 7pm ET
- Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
- Streaming: NFL Network (free trials with various streaming services)
How to watch the Steelers vs. Panthers online
The Steelers vs. Panthers game continues the NFL Network’s run of nationally televising NFL preseason games, but even if you’ve cut the cable cord or you want to watch it on your mobile device, there are plenty of ways to accomplish that. But first, you’ll need to get acquainted with NFL Network.
What is NFL Network?
If you want to be immersed in pro football, NFL Network is the place to go. There’s plenty to love about NFL Network, including the ability to watch exclusive shows like Good Morning Football, NFL Total Access, A Football Life, Inside the NFL, and most importantly, Sunday’s NFL GameDay once the regular season begins. There’s also daily programming devoted to power rankings and fantasy football that football lovers will geek out over. NFL Network shows most Thursday night games during the regular season, and it’ll exclusively show some of the international games in 2019. Take note, though: NFL Network can no longer be seen via DirecTV Now.
The bottom line: If you want to get closer to the action and catch (almost) every Thursday Night Football game, you need NFL Network.
Steelers vs. Panthers live stream: How to watch NFL Network
1) Sling TV
- Cost: $25-$40 per month (40% off first month)
- Sling TV devices: Amazon Fire TVs, Android Fire Stick, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Xbox One, Google Chromecast, Oculus Go, and iOS and Android devices
- Sling TV local channels: NBC, Fox (check your local availability here)
If you want to watch the Steelers vs. Panthers online via Sling TV, you’ll need to be subscribed to either Sling Blue ($25 per month) or Sling Orange + Blue ($40 per month). Both of those packages include NFL Network and a number of sports channels—like three ESPN channels, NBCSN, and FS1—and it’s still a nice perk that Sling subscribers can order a la carte packages. Sling TV also offers a special Latino package for bilingual viewers. Sling TV is currently offering a deal where you can subscribe for 40% off the regular price for the first month of your subscription. That means Sling Blue would cost $15, and Sling Orange + Blue would cost $25. (Here’s a complete guide to Sling TV channels and our Sling TV review.)
- Cost: $54.99 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
- FuboTV devices: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Android TV, iOS and Android devices
- FuboTV local channels: Fox, NBC, CBS (check local availability here)
If you’re a big-time sports fan, FuboTV is your best streaming service option. If you love international soccer and you’re a Spanish speaker, FuboTV also offers various add-on packages, including Fubo Latino and Fubo Português. FuboTV’s basic plan showcases nearly 100 channels and includes NFL Network. At $54.99 per month, you’ll also get FS1, FS2, NBCSN, NBA TV, Big Ten Network, Pac 12 Network, BeIn Sports, and CBS Sports Network, along with premium channels like FX/FXX/FXM. The only notable omission for sports fans is ESPN. You can add Fubo’s Sports Plus package for an additional $8.99 per month, which allows you to stream NFL RedZone, (Here’s the complete FuboTV channels list.)
- Cost: $44.99-$79.99 per month (after a 5-day free trial)
- PlayStation Vue devices: PlayStation 3 and 4, Roku, Amazon Fire, Google Chromecast, Kodi, iOS and Android devices
- PlayStation Vue local channels: NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS (enter your ZIP code here to check your availability)
If you’d like to watch live NFL games directly from your PS4, PlayStation Vue is your best bet. PlayStation also works with streaming devices like Roku and Amazon Fire products, but what separates PlayStation from the rest of the streaming services is that it’s also compatible with Kodi. No matter how you stream, you’ll get to choose from four tiers of channels—all but the cheapest include NFL Network. From there, you can also add NFL RedZone as part of the $10-per-month Sports Pack, which also unlocks ESPN Bases Loaded, ESPN Classic, Longhorn Network, Outside TV, and NBCUniversal regional sports networks. You can see the full list of PlayStation Vue channels here. Two other great perks: You can stream on up to five devices at once, and there’s also unlimited cloud DVR.
Other ways to watch NFL Network online
1) The NFL app
Cost: Depends on provider
Devices: Amazon Fire Stick, Apple TV, PS4, Roku, Android RV, iOS and Android devices
If you subscribe to NFL Network through a cable provider—or you know someone who does and they owe you a relatively large favor—you can also watch via the official NFL app. All you have to do is download it from your streaming device of choice—Amazon Fire Stick, Apple TV, PS4, Roku, or Android TV—and then enter in your cable credentials when prompted. You can also stream on any iOS or Android device, or on your desktop. Just visit nfl.com/watch.
Steelers vs. Panthers: Why it matters
Injuries have hurt both of these squads in recent years, dashing Super Bowl chatter for these perennially-promising teams. Once again, both of these squads should be competitive, but the Panthers and the Steelers will both need something extra to get over the hump.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera needs to choose wisely in selecting his backup quarterback. Cam Newton takes a beating on the field, and if the Panthers could land on a signal-caller who could take, say, the few games Newton might miss, that could make the difference in their season.
The Steelers have been great at developing receiver talent, but they also have a knack for losing it. There is no reason to believe that Donte Moncrief will suddenly become a dynamic pass catcher following a career absent any 1,000 yard seasons. Smith-Schuster is certainly ready to be the number one option, but the team must identify a breakout talent to help bolster Ben Roethlisberger’s passing numbers.
While the roster decisions made after Thursday’s game might not show immediate consequences, the wrong move could come back to haunt these squads as they make a push for a playoff spot.
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Brenden Gallagher is a politics reporter and cultural commentator. His work has been published by Motherboard, Complex, and VH1. He’s the co-founder of Beer Money Films, an indie production company. Based in Los Angeles, he works in television drama as a writers assistant.