It’s Steelers-Patriots week, and we are just hours away from the game that Steelers fans have been waiting for/dreading all season long.
The Patriots have an inferior record, are coming off a loss and are playing on the road … yet Vegas has them as 2.5-point favorites. And while all Steelers fans are hoping for a win, a 205-point loss would surprise absolutely no one. I mean, it’s Steelers-Patriots, after all. The one team in the league that regularly humiliates the Steelers like the Steelers do to the Browns is the New England Patriots.
Will this year be different? Maybe, maybe not. To debate this question with me I will welcome in one of the brightest minds in all of sports writering: Also me.
First up, the anti-Steelers case.
The Steelers are going to get killed.
The Steelers gave up 38 points and 413 yards of total offense last week to Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens. JOE FLACCO AND THE BALTIMORE RAVENS. If I wanted to, I could end my argument there and win the debate with ease. If the Steelers defense can’t stop the Ravens — 27th in the league in total yards — they have no hope against Tom Brady and the Patriots.
But to let you work out your thumb’s scrolling muscles, I’ll write a bit more. (Lucky you!)
First of all, Tom Brady owns the Steelers. He is 7-2 against the Steelers all-time in the regular season and 10-2 if you include the postseason. In his last seven games against the Steelers, Brady is 6-1 with 22 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Zero. And New England’s points differential over that same time period is plus-87, an average of 12.4 points per game. That is complete domination. Big brother, little brother stuff.
There is not a modern Steelers player alive who doesn’t have heel marks from Brady’s Ugg boots running up and down his chest.
At least 30 other teams in the NFL would dump their head coach in a second for Mike Tomlin, but New England is not one of them. If you hate yourself, re-watch the tape of last year’s AFC title game. Belichick and his staff so badly out-coached Tomlin, Todd Haley and Keith Butler that the Steelers coaches should have had their whistles confiscated after the game. Tomlin very well might be the second-best coach in the NFL, but it’s a distant No. 2. It’s the distance between Chris Hogan and every Steelers defensive back, if not more.
What makes it all worse is that in addition to the Brady and Belichick combos, the Patriots reside deep inside the Steelers heads. Pittsburgh plays tight against the Patriots. They make mistakes. You can sense the Steelers know their window to win with Ben-Bell-Brown in their primes could be closing.
The Steelers franchise is on an impressive run of success. Since 2001, in regular wins, playoffs wins and points differential, they are No. 2 in the NFL. But in every category – including Super Bowl titles – they are behind the New England Patriots. And if/when the Patriots go through the Steelers to win another Super Bowl this year, they’ll tie the Steelers for the most Super Bowl titles of all-time, thereby crushing Steelers fans’ biggest bragging right. The misery starts on Sunday when another good, but not good enough Steelers team gets crushed again. [Sad trombone noise.]
The Steelers are the better team and will win.
There’s maybe nothing that defines Steelers fans more than having a massive blind spot for every other team in the NFL. Yes, that’s the top trait for many Steelers fans, even beyond owning Terrible Towels, hating Steely McBeam and wearing Heath Miller jerseys to church.
So while the average Steelers fan can tell you 100 things wrong about the Steelers, they’ll have trouble coming up with one thing wrong with the Patriots (you know, outside of all the CHEATING).
But if you actually watch the Patriots, this is by no means a flawless, unbeatable team.
You know how the Steelers defense is hot garbage without Joe Haden and Ryan Shazier? The Patriots defense is a garbage inferno. The Steelers are sixth in the NFL in yards allowed; the Patriots are 29th.
The Steeler D is seventh in interceptions; the Patriots are tied for dead-last. And you know how the Steelers couldn’t stop Joe Flacco and the Ravens last week? The Patriots couldn’t stop Jay Cutler and the Dolphins, one of the worst offenses in all the land.
So imagine how New England will fair against the Steelers attack in a game that will be the Patriots’ third-straight road game. Ben Roethlisberger might just get his fourth career 500-yard passing game in the first half.
“It doesn’t matter, though,” you say. “No matter how much the Steelers score, Brady and the Patriots will score even more.” But you’re wrong, quiz kid. New England’s offense isn’t performing anywhere near the level Pittsburgh’s is.
The great Tom Brady? Maybe he’s injured. (He was on the injury report in recent weeks.) Maybe his magic, totally-not-a-scam sleepwear and energy supplements aren’t working anymore. (He’s definitely looked his age the last two weeks.) But whatever it is, Brady is not himself. In the last two games he has only 491 passing yards — less than Roethlisberger had Sunday night — and three interceptions to just one touchdown.
The Patriots’ pass game is so off that this week they were reduced to scraping the bottom of the barrel — you know, down where the Browns are — and brought in Kenny Britt. Yeah, they’re that desperate.
Pittsburgh’s offense is rolling, New England’s is not. And the Steelers defense has an edge over New England’s, too. Stop focusing on the past. And definitely don’t listen to the idiot who wrote the first part of this column. This is the Steelers’ year. The Patriots are going down.