Sunday, November 3, 2013

Week 9 picks: Steelers at Patriots

Publisher Nick St. Denis, associate editor Dan Begnoche and senior contributor Sean Donovan pick the New England Patriots' AFC bout with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Sean's take:
This edition of Pittsburgh-New England lacks the significance of past matchups, but heading down the stretch of this season, every game has playoff seeding value for the AFC East-leading Patriots. Father Time seems to have caught up to key components of the Steelers' roster, resulting in a vulnerable offensive line and secondary, two main reasons for Pittsburgh's off year. Ben Roethlisberger's strong performance makes it a close game, but New England narrowly manages to improve to 7-2.
Prediction: Patriots 24, Steelers 20

Nick's take:
The records can be thrown out when these two line up. The Steelers have been unable to generate much of anything in the turnover department, but they've been one of the best defenses in the NFL at preventing the big play. They'll make the Patriots work for every yard in this one, and Tom Brady will do plenty of handing off to his tailbacks and throwing to Rob Gronkowski. New England's defense will have ample opportunity to attack the Steelers' offensive backfield thanks to a shaky offensive line, though we know how capable Roethlisberger is at making plays when they seem to be over.
Prediction: Patriots 21, Steelers 17

Dan's take:
Pittsburgh's secondary has been strong this season, but a healthier wide receiving corps gives Brady and the offense a little bit more consistency. New England's by-committee ground game continues to roll against the Steelers' porous run defense allowing more than 120 yards per game, while Roethlisberger continues to struggle with turnovers against a defense that's returning some key playmakers. First quarter scoring and early leads will be key here, as the Pats are currently putting up 57 percent more points than the Steelers in the first stanza.  
Prediction: Patriots 23, Steelers 13