This could be the game both the Steelers and Patriots look back on that made or broke their playoff chances. The Steelers still lead Baltimore by one game in the AFC North going into today\’s game. The Steelers still have a tough schedule to finish out the season, including two divisional games. The Patriots versus the Steelers has been one of the NFL\’s top rivalry games over the last decade, but it really has been very one-sided. New England is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings against Pittsburgh. And with the exception of a three-point game in 2005 five of the last six have been decided by double-digit scores. The Steelers have had nine days off since beating Cincinnati in week 12. The Steelers have held their last 11 opponents under 300 total yards. Starting corners Deshea Townsend and Bryant McFadden are both looking to return today for the Steelers defense, who will be without defensive end Brett Keisel. The Steelers also are hoping running back Willie Parker can go today as well.
On defense the Steelers need to keep Matt Cassel inside the pocket and force him to make plays with his arm and not his legs. The defense will also try to make the Patriots prove they can run the ball against a seven man front while the defensive backs look to pay special attention to receivers Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Blitzes will be disguised as usual in an attempt to confuse the Patriot line calls.
On offense the Steelers will look to attack the Patriots rushing defense, which has allowed 100.5 yards a game this year and a 4 yard a carry average. With linebacker Adalius Thomas out for today’s game, the Steelers will also look to get tight end Heath Miller more involved in the middle of the field as well. Stretching the Patriots defense from sideline to sideline will be the key today.
The weather looks to be mostly cloudy with a chance of rain and snow this afternoon and should lend to a low scoring methodical game on both ends. This looks like the setting from previous Patriot Steeler games. The Steelers will stay close and win on a late touchdown in a low scoring winter day.
Prediction: Steelers 17 Patriots 16