The Patriots (9-4) will travel to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to take on the Steelers (7-5-1). This matchup will kick off at 4:25 PM. ET.
The Patriots road woes continued in week 14 when Miami made a miraculous last-ditch effort to win in the closing seconds. The Patriots held a 5-point lead with 16 seconds remaining in the game. The New England sideline was all smiles as they looked to have the game locked up. Then, the Patriots’ hail-marry defense broke down and the Dolphins lateraled their way to a stunning 69-yard touchdown. The Patriots still hold the second seed in the AFC playoff race, but cannot be happy with their defense as the playoffs approach.
The Steelers are coming off their third straight loss but still hold the division lead in the AFC North. Over the last three weeks, the Steelers have lost to the Broncos, Chargers, and Raiders. It’s hard to imagine the Steelers and their explosive offense losing for a fourth straight week. It won’t be easy for the Steelers to bounce back against the Patriots. Coming into 2018, New England’s record under Bill Belichick in games following a loss was 41-11, according to MassLive. It is worth noting that the Patriots lost two in a row earlier this season. While it’s not impossible to beat the Patriots after a loss, it’s certainly not an ideal situation for a Steelers team trying to avoid a fourth straight defeat.
New England’s offense takes a step forward while their defense takes two steps back.
While Brady’s numbers are far from terrible this season, the Patriots’ offense hasn’t looked as efficient as fans have come to expect. On the season, Brady has thrown for 3,700 yards and 23 touchdowns. While these aren’t terrible numbers, neither are they impressive.
Against the Dolphins in week 14, Brady threw for 358 yards and 3 touchdowns. Strangely, this game was a coming out party of sorts for the Patriots offense.
The Patriots’ offense appeared to be more in sync getting Edelman and Gronkowski more involved in the passing game. Both have dealt with playing issues, Edelman was suspended and Gronkowski was injured. Now with both of them on the field, the offense is finally clicking.
While the offense is improving, the defense has taken a step back. After losing to the Titans week 10, New England defense looked out of sorts.
The Titans outplayed and outcoached New England. The Patriots went into their week 11 bye week with a lot to improve upon.
When the Patriots faced the Jets in week 12 and the Vikings in week 13 the defense was back. The Patriots were trending in the right direction before the complete implosion against the Dolphins. If the Patriots are going to beat the Steelers on the road, then their defense will need to show up and shut down two of the best receivers in the NFL.
The Steelers are sliding at the wrong time.
It’s been a rough couple week for Mike Tomlin and company. Pittsburgh’s three-game slide has them on the edge of the playoffs, holding the narrowest of leads over the Ravens AFC North.
The Steelers’ offense has played well all season long, despite not having Le’Veon Bell.
Bell might be a transcendent player, but the Steelers know how to draft talent and in Bell’s absence the rest of the offense has been spectacular. That’s what makes this tree game slide so befalling. Outside of the Chargers, the Steelers were easily the better team in those matchups.
Facing a motivated Patriots squad won’t make life any easier for the Steelers in their quest to return to the playoffs.
According to NFL Stats, the Steelers have the fourth-ranked offense while the Patriots have the 5th ranked offense in terms of yards per game. Similarly, in terms of points per game, the Steelers hold a slight edge in the ranking over the Patriots.
What will separate these two teams is the play of their defense. According to NFL Stats, the Steelers are 8th in yards allowed per game, while the Patriots are 23rd in yards per game. However, in terms of points per game, the Patriots’ defense ranks 12th while the Steelers rank 16th in the league.
Patriots Vs Steelers Betting Lines
The Steelers (3-3 at home) have been anything but automatic at Heinz Field this season. Similarly, the Patriots (3-4 away) on the road have struggled all season. The Patriots road woes make them a tricky pick here. The Patriots defense will get some help this week as it appears as though the Steelers will be without running back, James Connor. That’s a huge blow for the Steelers, as his presence in the offense has helped the offense overcome the loss of Le’Veon Bell.
The Patriots have had success in the past against the Steelers on the road. The reemergence of Gronkowski in the offense cannot be overstated. Like Brady, he makes everyone around him better. Expect Gronkowski’s presence alone to open up options for other receivers like Edelman and Gordon. The biggest wild card in this matchup is the adjustments made by the coaches. In that department, Bill Belichick always seems to get the better of Mike Tomlin in these types of games. Expect a prepared Patriots defense to play with a renewed sense of urgency as they try to keep pace with the AFC leaders in Kansas City and Los Angeles.
Play: Patriots -2.5 @ BetOnline.ag