When you think of the best teams in the AFC, it seems year after year you don’t have to look much further than the two squads that will do battle at Heinz Field Sunday, that being the Patriots and Steelers.
While New England dominated the Steelers last season on a Sunday night, the Steelers lately have been on a roll, winning three in a row to put their 2011 mark at 5-2, good for first right now in the AFC North. Below we take a shot at the keys of the game for the Steelers, as well as our prediction.
1. Stop the Pats Run Game – In recent history, the Pats have beaten the Steelers with the arm of Tom Brady being the story. Brady will throw a lot, and that’s fine, but when guys like BenJarvus Green-Ellis (87 yards in last meeting) or Stevan Ridley run the ball, it would help if the Steelers would stuff them. Allowing the Pats to have some type of run game is only going to allow Brady to pick them apart all the more.
2. Make Some Special Plays – This game has all the makings of a wild west shootout, and while both offenses should score, it would help the Steelers chances quite a bit to make some plays on special teams as well. Antonio Brown has been close a few times in 2011 to breaking a few, and it would be great to see him do it Sunday. Making it long fields for the Pats also would help the D, so Daniel Sepulveda needs to have a good day punting as well.
3. Pressure Brady – Of course this is always easier said than done, but if the Steelers 7 DL and LB’s can’t pressure Tom Brady, it’s likely going to be just like last year, when the future HOF QB was 30-for-43 for 350 yards with three touchdowns and no picks. Dick LeBeau is burning the midnight oil figuring out ways to get to Brady, and here’s hoping he gets it done, as it’s a huge key to getting a win on Sunday.
Prediction – New England has owned the Steelers since Brady’s arrival in 2001, and Sunday I can’t see it changing. The Steelers D has played well the past few weeks, but Brady always seems to play well, more so in Heinz Field. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense is going to need to put up 30, and while they may, Brady and the Pats offense are going to do what they always do – spread the field and make the plays when they need to. New England 37 Pittsburgh 27
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