Pittsburgh Steelers vs New England Patriots: Who Has The Advantage?
Steelers vs Patriots: Who Has the Advantage?
What has been dubbed as a must-see game over the past several years has now lost a lot of its luster. This coming Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers will travel to Foxboro, MA to face the New England Patriots. The Steelers (2-5) have fallen off the wagon last week after winning two consecutive games. So far, the Patriots (6-2) are in control of their own destiny in the AFC East, and could get one step closer to doing the same in the entire conference with a win over the Steelers.
Despite being hit with injuries to key players, New England has found a way to continue their winning ways. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Pittsburgh. The injury report for both teams is fairly long, with the majority of their players listed as probable.
The Steelers were plagued on their offensive line last week with three linemen being sidelined in their Week 8 loss. Of their three casualties, right guard David DeCastro is ruled out with a concussion. As for the Patriots, tight end Rob Gronkowski will more than likely play, and cornerback Aqib Talib, the team’s leader in interceptions, will be a game-time decision.
Over the past 10 season, Pittsburgh and New England have squared off in the regular season six times, with both teams splitting the series. Looking at the current records of both ball clubs, it’s apparently clear that one team is better than the other at this point in the season. Even though recent history shows us that this game could go either way, I must say that this Week 9 matchup will definitely be one-sided.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+
Steelers' Pass Offense vs Patriots' Pass Defense
New England’s pass offense is the fifth best in the league going into Week 9. The presence of Talib in their secondary could make a major difference. However, the fact that the Patriots are tied for 10th in the NFL with 24 sacks and the Steelers will be without DeCastro on their already struggling offensive line, New England’s pass rush should be in for a very productive day.
Steelers' Run Offense vs Patriots' Run Defense
This matchup could actually go either way. The Patriots are 31st in the league in stopping the run, while the Steelers have the third-worst ground attack that averages 68.7 yards per game. Seeing that Pittsburgh will need all the help that they can get, I’ll give them this one.
Patriots' Pass Offense vs Steelers' Pass Defense
Even without big-time receivers at his disposal, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has found a way make his offense flourish. Pittsburgh’s second-ranked pass defense will definitely cause problems for New England’s aerial attack, but a lack of a consistent pass rush will put more pressure on the Steelers’ secondary against one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
Patriots' Run Offense vs Steelers' Run Defense
The Steelers clearly showed last week that they couldn’t stop the run. Even though they won’t have to worry about a dual-threat quarterback this week, they will still have to try to contain New England’s 12th ranked rushing attack. More importantly, they will have to get back to fundamentals and actually tackle.
Pittsburgh’s meltdown on special teams last week led to the releasing of punter Zoltan Mesko. The team did sign Mat McBriar as a replacement. Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham should get out of his funk from last week, however, the uncertainty of McBriar leaves a little doubt in what Pittsburgh’s special teams will do this week.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick are both highly respected coaches in the league and are proven winners. However, this season has shown that the struggles in Pittsburgh have yet to be addressed properly, while the issues in New England have. It seems that one coach has his team pointed in the right direction, while the other doesn’t.
The struggles that the Steelers have experienced so far have been unfortunate. Even with some improvement from last week, the Patriots should still be a bit overwhelming for Pittsburgh. Furthermore, New England’s home-field advantage will make it that much more difficult for the Steelers.
Prediction: Patriots 27, Steelers 13