Visit NFL from the sidelines on the new Observer-Reporter site:

Friday, November 01, 2013

Who I like, New England version

For all of the talk about New England dominating the Steelers, Pittsburgh has actually won two of the past three matchups against the Patriots. Of course, one of those games came with Matt Cassel at quarterback instead of Tom Brady.

Brady owns a 6-2 career record against the Steelers, though four of those meetings came prior to 2005, when Brady and the Patriots were still winning Super Bowls.

As hard as it is to believe, the Patriots haven’t won a Super Bowl since the 2004 season. Since then, the Steelers have won two Super Bowls and been to another.

But that wasn’t these Steelers, or these Patriots, for that matter.

While the Steelers’ issues during their 2-5 start have been well-documented – turnovers, sacks and lack thereof and allowing big plays on defense – the Patriots have found a way to overcome some of the same issues to win.

New England has allowed 23 sacks, is converting on 32 percent of its third downs, Brady has been intercepted six times and the Patriots have fumbled 11 times. But they’ve only lost three of those fumbles.

New England’s opponents have also lost 11 fumbles, but the Patriots have recovered six.

It adds up to a plus-7 for the Patriots in turnover margin, which will help you overcome some shortcomings.

By contrast, the Steelers have fumbled 10 times and lost seven. Their opponents have fumbled seven times and recovered one.

The Steelers are minus-9 in turnover margin, but much of that was built during the team’s 0-4 start. Pittsburgh has turned the ball over just three times in its past three games.

The Patriots have 10 interceptions this season, though four have been by corner Aqib Talib, and he’s questionable to play with a hip injury.

The Patriots are 7 ½-point favorites in this game and that seems like a big number for a team that has seen six of its eight games decided by a touchdown or less.

The Steelers will continue to take better care of the football, and it wouldn't surprise me if they won. But not having David DeCastro, who has been their best offensive linemen, available will hurt.

I expect them to lose yet another close one.

Take New England, 24-20


Anonymous said...

Wow, it really shows the enthusiasm for the Steelers-NE game when nobody posts. Then again, no one likes to talk about funerals either.

Noel said...

The big "ifs" for me are the line play, both lines. If the D-line plays well Brady will get pressured by the LBs and we could see some turnovers. If that happens and the o-line plays even OK there is no reason this team can't win. Unfortunately both lines have been inconsistent so who knows what to expect?

As much as I'm eternally optimistic about our team I have to begrudgingly admit the Patriots are much less likely to beat themselves with poor clock management, pointlessly arguing penalties and such.

NineFingers said...

I think we'll dominate this game...yet as usual, the score will be close. 24-20 win. Le'Veon Bell gets his first 100yd rushing game with 2 TDs.

Then we'll probably lose next week at home to the Bills. Cause that's what we do, so it seems.

Anonymous Brian said...

I want to think the game is very winnable. NE's defense is decimated by injury & Brady's dinged-up without great weapons, etc. - meaning just have to not turn the ball over and run well and/or have Ben be great on 3rd downs (like the last time they played).

But then I think NE is 6-2 despite all their problems, Brady's coming off a couple of off games, and then I think - Brady against no pass rush other than Woodley is a bad thing.

So NE by a touchdown. Basically, same thing as Dale says.

Patrick said...

I am going to sound like a homer here, but I also think the Steelers can win his game. My reasoning is that this is really the season. Lots of winnable games coming up and Cinci with a loss to Miami and losing Atkins was huge.

I think this is going to be high scoring and I expect the Steelers to break out some trickery (not the wildcat) on offense and/or ST.

I'll go Steelers 31-27. 31 points by the Steelers sounds nuts, but I'm hoping for a D score or turnover in their end.

NineFingers said...