Patriots To Overcome Steelers On The Road

Brady has dominated the Steelers

The two titans of the AFC clash on Sunday as the Pittsburgh Steelers host the New England Patriots at Heinz Field.

The Patriots defeated the Steelers in the AFC Championship game last season on their way to winning Super Bowl LI. Tom Brady carved open Mike Tomlin’s men to guide his team to a comfortable victory. Revenge will be on the minds of Pittsburgh in the contest, knowing that a victory will see them lock up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Pittsburgh have won their last eight matches on the bounce, including their comeback win over the Baltimore Ravens last week. The Steelers were down by two scores in the fourth quarter, but found their form on offense to secure a 39-38 victory. The result delivered the AFC North crown and a place in the playoffs for Tomlin’s men. However, they will have to overcome their nemesis to ensure that the road to the Super Bowl runs through Heinz Field.

The Patriots have won their last four matches on the bounce against the Steelers, including their 36-17 triumph in the 2016 AFC Championship game. Bill Belichick’s side appeared on course to enter the contest with an equal record to Pittsburgh. However, they saw their eight-game winning streak come to an end in a defeat to the Miami Dolphins on Monday night.

New England have been hit by a number of injuries on the defensive side of the ball. That could leave them exposed as Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are operating close to the peak of their powers. Therefore it should be an enthralling contest between the best two sides in the AFC. We’ll now break down both sides and weigh up the match using the latest betting odds.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Bell will have an opportunity against NE

The Steelers are the hottest team in the NFL entering their crucial showdown against the Patriots. Tomlin’s side have won their last eight matches, but have not put forward many convincing performances. Their last three wins have come through late field goals from Chris Boswell, overcoming the Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals and the Ravens. Roethlisberger did guide his team to a hammering of the Tennessee Titans in November, although the Steelers were helped by atrocious play from their opponents. Pittsburgh will need to raise the level of their performance against New England – not just because of their poor record against Belichick’s men.

The AFC North outfit have played the Patriots 13 times since Belichick took the reins in 2000. They’ve registered only three victories over his team in that period, with one of those coming in the 2008 term when the Patriots were without Brady. Pittsburgh’s defensive system has played into the hands of Brady when he has played against Tomlin especially. The 40-year-old is 6-1 against the Steelers head coach since he assumed control in 2007. Tomlin’s only victory came in the 2011 season when his side opted to alter their defensive approach. A similar tactic should be employed this time around, with the middle of the defense exposed without the presence of Ryan Shazier.

Brown, Bell and Roethlisberger have the ability to go score-for-score with the Patriots. Brown unleashed a 200-yard performance on the Ravens last week. Bell could be the decisive factor given the Patriots’ weakness against the run. The 27-year-old suffered an early injury in the AFC Championship game that ruled him out of action. Bell will be determined to prove a point and his value to the team with a standout performance on Sunday.

New England Patriots

Brady has dominated the Steelers

Credit: AP Photo

The Patriots put forward their worst offensive display of the season on Monday, but were still able to put 20 points on the board against the Dolphins. Belichick’s men were out of sync on both sides of the ball, making uncharacteristic mistakes. Brady threw two interceptions to Xavien Howard as he attempted to find Brandin Cooks downfield. Without the presence of the suspended Rob Gronkowski, New England were unable to pose a potent threat, while Brady look troubled in the pocket. Gronkowski has dominated the Steelers in the past, including two three-touchdown performances. The 28-year-old owes his team a performance and it would not be a surprise to see dominate at Heinz Field.

On the defensive side of the ball, the reigning Super Bowl champions were left exposed due to injuries to Trey Flowers and Kyle van Noy. Already short on depth in their linebacking corps, Elandon Roberts’ lack of speed was evident against Kenyan Drake. Belichick will be concerned should his side not be back to full strength against the Steelers and the threat of Bell. The Patriots are allowed the most yards per rush in the NFL this season – over five yards a carry. This cannot continue against the Steelers, although life will be difficult without the injured Alan Branch. Injuries are crushing New England at the worst moment in the campaign and they will have to battle on regardless.

Brady and his offense still have more than enough talent to pose the Steelers’ a host of issues. His record against the Steelers is outstanding, having thrown 22 touchdowns to zero interceptions since Tomlin took charge on 2007. They have won their last four matches against the AFC North outfit and will have no fear heading into Heinz Field.

Betting Options

The Patriots’ strong record against the Steelers weighs the odds in their favour. However, the form of Roethlisberger, Bell and Brown along with New England’s injuries on defense could swing the balance of power back in the favour of Tomlin’s men. Expect a high-scoring contest between two quality outfits along with high drama due to the stakes. The Patriots and Brady rarely have two poor performances back-to-back and the return of Gronkowski should be enough to see them over the line. Back Belichick’s men at odds of -143   with BetOnline to claim the win, although take the Steelers on the +2.5 spread given their propensity for close matches at odds of +102 with 888Sport. The Patriots put 36 points on the board in the AFC Championship game and expect them to rise to the occasion once again. Back them to score over 28.5 points at -115   with Betway. Gronkowski owes his team a huge game after his suspension, back him to score anytime at -111   with 888Sport.

Tips Summary

New England Patriots To Beat Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday 17th December 2017 16:25 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: -143

Take +2.5 Spread Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday 17th December 2017 16:25 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: +102

New England Patriots To Score Over 28.5 Points
Sunday 17th December 2017 16:25 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: -115

Rob Gronkowski To Score Touchdown Anytime
Sunday 17th December 2017 16:25 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: -111