Steelers and Patriots will face off in Foxborough

AFC Championship Betting Odds: Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers and Patriots will face off in Foxborough

The Pittsburgh Steelers have progressed to the AFC Championship game for the first time since the 2010 season.

Mike Tomlin’s men produced a fine performance to see off the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round, but will need to raise the level of their game against the New England Patriots.

The Steelers lost their meeting earlier in the season to the AFC East outfit by 11 points on home soil, and will need a strong effort to knock off Bill Belichick’s side at Gillette Stadium.

Breaking Down The Betting Options

Pittsburgh are riding the crest of a wave into Foxborough after winning their last nine matches on the bounce. Those victories have included their two in the playoffs thus far, overcoming the Miami Dolphins in comfortable fashion before grinding out the positive result against the Chiefs.

The form of the Killer B’s has been the driving force behind their surge into the AFC Championship game. Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown have all operated at an extremely high level, despite the quarterback battling an injury problem midway through the season.

Bell has been money in the playoffs thus far with back-to-back performances of over 100 rushing yards, and for the Steelers to advance to the Super Bowl he will have to continue in that vein. Therefore backing him with Bovada sportsbook to rush for over 110.5 yards at -125   might be a solid bet, although the Patriots were able to limit him in their match earlier this term.

The Steelers have not relied too much on the arm of Roethlisberger in the playoffs, but going toe-to-toe with Tom Brady will require the 35-year-old to step up. As a result, backing him at -190   to throw over 1.5 touchdowns would be a wise option.

Should Bell and Roethlisberger be on the top of their games and Brown is a factor in the passing game then the Steelers will be a good bet to win the AFC crown at +185 . However, it will take a huge effort from all concerned to get Tomlin’s men to the Super Bowl, although they should at least make a strong enough showing to cover the +6 spread on the road.

Why the Steelers Could Win

Bell could send his side to the Super Bowl

The Steelers have been an improving outfit throughout the second half of the season. Tomlin has managed to find the right blend between offense and defense, culminating in his side’s march to the AFC title game after beating out the Baltimore Ravens for the AFC North crown.

His team have put together two excellent performances in the playoffs. First they overcame the Dolphins, blasting Adam Gase’s men aside with their talented offensive trio. Then their defense came to the fore against Kansas City to deny Alex Smith on a two-point conversion late in the game.

James Harrison yielded a hold from Eric Fisher before Sean Davis produced a play on the second attempt to knock the ball away from Travis Kelce in the endzone.

Tomlin’s men are peaking at just the right time in the season and unlike other sides they will have no fear over travelling to face the Patriots. Not many of their stars have an abundance of playoff experience, but between Roethlisberger and Harrison there are four Super Bowl rings.

Bell notched a Steelers post-season record of 161 yards against the Dolphins and broke his own milestone with a 170-yard display against the Chiefs. He will be vital against the Patriots as he can keep Brady off the field and limit the possessions in the game for both sides. He will have to improve in the redzone as he along with his team-mates were held out of the endzone last week.

Defensively, Harrison and Bud Dupree have formed a solid pass-rush, but both will need to be a constant presence in the backfield to disrupt Brady. The Houston Texans knocked the Patriots out of their rhythm and a similar display will be needed to keep Belichick’s men off the scoreboard.

Why The Steelers Could Lose

Brady could advance to another Super Bowl

For all of their solid performances in their winning run they have not seen a quarterback of Brady’s calibre since facing the Patriots earlier in the season. Dak Prescott did guide the Dallas Cowboys past Tomlin’s men at Heinz Field with a 35-point performance, but even he can’t hold up against the quality possessed by the future of Hall of Famer.

Brady will be without his best weapon tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has mauled the Steelers in their past outings. However, Dion Lewis put the Texans to the sword with a three-touchdown performance, while Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell and Martellus Bennett will put Pittsburgh’s defense to the test.

The 39-year-old quarterback has shined in his past matchups against Pittsburgh, boasting a 5-1 record since Tomlin took charge in the 2007 season. He has carved apart their defense with relative ease and will be determined to do so in the AFC Championship game after a sub-par display against the Texans. Brady is desperate to add a fifth Super Bowl ring to his collection and will be baying for blood on Sunday.

On the other side of the ball New England are no slouches either. Belichick’s men have the top-ranked scoring defense in the NFL, allowing just 15 points per game over the course of the season. Roethlisberger and company had issues punching the ball into the endzone against the Chiefs, and similar troubles at Gillette Stadium could cost them as Brady will be far less forgiving than Smith was last week.

Malcolm Butler was impressive in the meeting between the sides, making life difficult for Brown, albeit with Landry Jones in at quarterback. Should the wideout fail to dominate that matchup it could be costly as his side lack sufficient depth.

Tips Summary

Pittsburgh Steelers to beat New England Patriots
Sunday 22nd January 18:40 ET (23:40 GMT)
Odds: +185

Pittsburgh Steelers to cover +6 spread
Sunday 22nd January 18:40 ET (23:40 GMT)
Odds: -110

Le’Veon Bell to rush over 110.5 yards
Sunday 22nd January 18:40 ET (23:40 GMT)
Odds: -125

Ben Roethlisberger to throw over 1.5 touchdowns
Sunday 22nd January 18:40 ET (23:40 GMT)
Odds: -190

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