Friday is here and it's time for me to give you, the SBR
faithful, your long awaited pick for the AFC showdown between the New England
Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers. We started the week with the opening
numbers followed by my take on the total for this game. It's time for the pick.
Offense vs Defense
It's the classic matchup that all of us want to see in a football game. The big time offense versus a shutdown defense. As I mentioned in my total article, the Steelers defense isn't quite what it used to be, but it is still good and imposing. It should be an amazing chess match between Dick Lebeau and Bill O'Brien.
Lebeau knows he can't stop both facets of the Patriot offense. With New England you have to pick your poison. Two weeks ago, the Jets committed to stopping the pass, what happened? BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a big game, running for 136 yards and two touchdowns. I expect similar tactics from the Steelers. If the Steelers lose, they could live with holding Brady down and letting the New England running backs do the damage.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers offense, Rashard Mendenhall has been banged up and a little ineffective so far this season. With the noted problems New England has in their secondary, Big Ben will be looking down field a lot. Mike Wallace has given the Patriots problems in the past; plus, the Patriots haven't been terrible at stopping the run. They rank 8th in yards against, giving up barely 100 yards rushing a game. Plus, in my opinion, the Steeler offense is better this year than in most of the previous years these two teams met.
Who will step up?
The game should boil down to this; will the Steelers have success against the Patriots like the Cowboys did, or will the Pats be able to run the ball effectively and play defense like they did against the Cowboys. The Pats forced Tony Romo to beat them. If Ben Roethilisberger can out do what Romo did two weeks ago, the Steelers will have a shot. If Green-Ellis can have a game like he did against the impressive Jet defense, the Patriots will have another big day.
The Sharp Pick
I am a big proponent of history. The history of this matchup isn't good for the Steelers. Even with the advantage of home field, Tom Brady just knows how to beat the Steelers. Even when the Steelers had arguably the best defense in the league last season, Brady dropped 39 points in Pittsburgh, not even one year ago.
The Steeler secondary is the one part of their defense that has been hurt the most this season. Despite the great play by cornerback Ike Taylor, the Steelers pass defense has been mediocre against bad teams. As mentioned in my spread opener, the Steelers have had a cupcake schedule to start the year. The teams they have beaten, have a combined record of 8-24; not exactly the cream of the crop.
In the end, Tom Brady and the Patriot offense is too good and the Steeler defense has seen better days. Though I still expect it to be marginally close, New England will once again handle the Steelers and should win by a touchdown to cover the spread.
Take the Patriots -3.
Head over to the SBR NFL Betting Forum to put your two cents in on this matchup. Who are you backing and why? Do you see anyone beating out the Patriots for the AFC title? Let us know what you think.