Here we have one of the best games of the season and without a doubt, game of the week for Week 8. Some people are already writing this one off as a Patriots win, considering Tom Brady has had the Steelers' number for most of his career.
However, I think this game will be much closer than most believe. It puts a potent Patriots passing attack against the leagues best passing defense in Pittsburgh. This one is going to be a shootout.
Take a look at that video and tell me you can't feel the energy when "Renegade" starts. The crowd comes alive, the terrible towels start waving and the energy starts buzzing.
Pittsburgh is one of the hardest places to play at on the road. Steelers fans are like no other and you can count on them showing up for the game.
It's going to be tough on the Patriots because this crowd desperately wants to beat New England. They've had their number for years and I'm sure Steelers fans are sick of it.
Expect this crowd to be relentless.
What more can be said about this guy that hasn't been said?
Arguably one of the greatest QB's of all time, even in a "bad" season, he is still miles ahead of 95% of other quarterbacks. His accuracy and power are almost unparalleled.
He isn't that much of a long bomb passer, he has the ability to do so, but he prefers quick passes for 5 or 10 yards to dink and dunk the offense down the field.
He also is a master of the hurry up offense. Brady can keep defensive players on the field and doesn't give opportunities to swap out players, keeping lineman and linebackers tired while he has his way with the defense.
Quietly playing some of his best football of the year is Ike Taylor. He had one of his worst games however last weekend against Larry Fitzgerald. But who doesn't? Other than that game, he's locked down 99% of passes thrown his way.
Not only has Ike Taylor's play increased, but it appears as if his great play has extended to the other defenders of Pittsburgh. William Gay, who was constantly burned last year, has for the most part done great this season.
Troy Polamalu has had a good 4 or 5 opportunities to intercept passes this season, but it seems he has a mild case of butter fingers. But he is still flying around the field as normal.
This pass defense ranks number one in the league and while some argue that Pittsburgh hasn't faced a QB of Brady's caliber, and while that is true, they have still faced some quality pass attacks in Houston, Baltimore, and Tennessee.
Or lack thereof I should say.
The Patriots rushing defense is in the top half of the league, but their kryptonite is easily their pass defense. Ranking dead last in the league and allowing 322.2 yards in the air per game, Ben Roethlisberger should have a field day.
The Steelers rushing attack of Mendenhall, Redman, Moore, and Dwyer probably won't have a career day against the 8th best rushing defense in the league. However, the Steelers would be stupid to not attack through the air until they get a lead, then run the ball and control the clock.
The Patriots don't win game by shutting their opponents down, they win games by outscoring their opponents.
Arguably one of the most exciting players to watch in the entire league, the Tasmanian Devil is everywhere on the field in every play. While, other than a fumble recovery for a touchdown, he hasn't created any turnovers, he has been a consistent machine.
Polamalu can do anything from play as a normal safety, to creeping up the line and blind siding the quarterback. You can't coach this guy. He is a natural athlete that wreaks havoc on offenses.
The Steelers need to allow Troy to be Troy, rather than play him safe like every game against the Patriots. The Steelers are afraid of the long ball against Brady, when they should be worried about the underneath passes that keep the Patriots on the field.
Tom Brady's favorite targets that are not named Wes Welker. While Welker is having an amazing season, the Steelers should be more concerned with the tight ends.
The two Gronkowski's and Hernandez could play key roles in the outcome of this game if Pittsburgh is unable to contain them. Not only do they increase production in the Patriots rushing game, but they are very real threats when Tom Brady has the ball. Slant routes, sideline routes, underneath, these TE's stay in front of the defense and will gladly take 5-10 yard passes.
The Steelers need to press coverage, get in front of the tight ends, tackle on the first hit and stop them if they want a chance at winning this game.
The sad part about that video is that Wallace had a bum hamstring, and he still blazes by the defender of Arizona.
I've argued that the receivers of Pittsburgh are the second best, if not the best, in the league, only behind Green Bay. The raw talent of Sanders, Brown, and of course, Wallace is outstanding considering Sanders and Brown are only in their second year, while Wallace is in his third.
And don't forget about Hines Ward. While he may be sidelined with an injury, he is a mentor to this young group of receivers and you bet he will coach them for this game.
The New England Patriots are currently favored by 2.5 points.
The Steelers thrive when they are the underdog, especially at home. Expect them to play with a fire in their eyes.
These next two games basically decide where Pittsburgh is supposed to be in the league. With another home game against Baltimore next week, the Steelers have an opportunity to better their playoff chances. Coming out of that stretch 2-0 or 1-1 is essential to the teams playoff hopes. Currently they sit atop the AFC North thanks to a bad game by the Ravens.
I'm going to offer two predictions on the outcome of this game. We all know the gameplan for both teams in this game. Score points, a lot of them. Both teams know that stopping the offense isn't going to happen very often.
1st Scenario: The Steelers play the Patriots like they have before, off the ball while giving up short runs and passes. Brady has another field day, going 38-43 with 330 yards and 4 TD's.
Patriots - 34
Steelers - 27
2nd Scenario: Steelers are able to get pressure on Tom Brady and stop the short passes while creating 2 turnovers. Brady goes 24-40 with 240 yards, 2 INT's, and 2 TD's.
Steelers - 30
Patriots - 20
This is going to be a shootout. An exciting game for all 60 minutes. However, Pittsburgh's offense is clicking on most cylinders and Brady has looked flustered in some games. I'm going to take Pittsburgh's number 1 pass defense against the Patriots offense while the Steelers are able to score on nearly every possession. I see the Steelers getting more stops than the Patriots do, and the Steelers will win this shootout.