David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
The Steelers are one of the teams it would hurt most to see the Patriots lose to, but I just don't see it happening.
Let's start with the 55-31 drubbing the Pats handed the Steelers earlier this year. Naysayers will point to the 2010 Pats' 45-3 regular season blowout of the Jets, who wound up beating New England in the divisional round that year. However, those Jets allowed the third-fewest YPG of any defense, were ranked fifth in Football Outsiders' DVOA and had the 10th-best adjusted sack rate of any defensive line.
The 2010 Jets had a great defense. This year's Steelers? Not so much.
Pittsburgh ranks 20th in both points and yards allowed this season, and they can't generate a sustainable pass rush. They're 26th in adjusted sack rate, and rank outside the top-16 teams in covering every opposing WR.
On offense, their leading rusher Le'Veon Bell averages 3.2 YPC, and their offensive line has the seventh-highest adjusted sack rate in the league.
So, the Steelers can't rush the passer, can't protect their own QB, can't run the ball effectively and aren't equipped to stop the Patriots' passing attack. When these two teams met in Week 9, New England racked up over 600 yards.
There's very little that could prevent the Pats from running up the score again on these Steelers. Maybe a 2010 redux is in the works if these two teams were to meet, but again, I just don't see it.